Patricia Maher, Democratic candidate for Congress in the 2ndDistrict, supports LIRR union workers in their contract dispute with theMTA. Last Saturday, Maher, along with other politicians from both sidesof the aisle, attended a labor rally at the Massapequa train station
that attracted more than 2,000 workers from multiple unions including the Transportation Communications Union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers-Service Employees International Union.
"These workers have been without a new contract for four years: enough is enough!" exclaimed Maher. "Working without a contract and without a raise for four years is unacceptable, let alone when times are tough".
The LIRR unions have stood firm on their offer of a 17% raise over six years, an offer that is consistent with average cost-of-living increasesdue to inflation and also was recommended by two federal mediation boards. The MTA originally countered with an 11% raise over the same period of time.
But then on Tuesday, the MTA unveiled a new offer:a 17% raise over seven years, with some added benefits instead of the slightly larger annual pay increase proposed by the union. However, under this proposal, current workers would contribute 2% of their pay towards health insurance, and future hires would contribute 4% of theirpay. The unions were critical of this offer, in part because it was revealed to the public before private negotiations could take place.
"No one wants a strike," stated Maher, referring to a possible strike beginning on July 20 if there is no agreement. "But there needs to be good faith negotiations and the contract has to be fair to every stakeholder: the unions, the MTA, and the public". Maher concluded
by saying that "two separate federal mediation boards sided with the union. If their offer was good enough for them, it should be good enough for us".