Negotiations between unions and Long Island Rail Road officials have reportedly collapsed and made a strike nearly inevitable, according to multiple reports.
After just 45 minutes of discussion, union leaders and LIRR officials parted and prompted unions to declare their unceasing intent to strike, according to the New York Daily News.
"I regret to report that negotiations have collapsed with the MTA, and all eight unions are now proceeding with strike plans for July 20," union spokesman Anthony Simon said Monday in a statement after talks dissolved.
The strike would likely go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. However, service interruptions could begin as early as Wednesday as the railroad secures equipment, Simon said.
According to MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast, talks broke down after unions refused to negotiate.
“There was a long distance between the offer we have up on the table and their willingness and ability to be able to respond to that and close this gap,” he told CBS.
"Make no mistake about it. The timing of this strike, with its devastating impact on Long Island's summer season, is MTA's decision," wrote Simon, throwing the blame back on their opponents. He added that the "MTA would not agree" to union requests to delay the strike that lawmakers and Long Islanders reportedly supported.
Details on counteroffers were not released.
New York congressional leaders refused to intervene last week.
“For anyone to be looking for a silver bullet from Congress, they would be making a big mistake,” Rep. Peter King said, according to CBS. “This is ultimately a state responsibility to resolve within the state and we’re not going to do anything to interfere with the negotiating process whatsoever.”
“The unions’ false belief that Congress would step in to mandate a settlement was a major impediment to any real progress,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to The New York Times. “With this obstacle removed, it is now clear that the only path to resolution is at the bargaining table.”
Nassau County officials have said they will open temporary office space for stranded commuters if a strike does take place.
“A LIRR strike will be disastrous as it will cause severe disruption for residents seeking to commute to their jobs,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said last week.
The county has said it would set up office spaces at Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage. Spaces would be available on a first-come, first-serve basis on strike weekdays and can be reserved by calling 516-573-9792.
For those who are driving into the city, Nassau and city officials are working to adjust traffic lights to make green lights last longer on Merrick Road and Sunrise Highway during evening commutes.
The MTA has released a set of guidelines for travelers in case of a strike that included working from home, staying with friends or family close to New York City, carpooling, asking for time off or flexible hours from employers, and using other mass transit options.
In Nassau, shuttle buses would run from the Seaford, Bellmore and Freeport LIRR stations, as well as from Nassau Community College in Garden City, to the Howard Beach-JFK Airport subway stop. Buses from the Hicksville station would take commuters to the Woodhaven Boulevard subway station.
In Suffolk, there would be just two shuttle bus locations–at the Deer Park and Ronkonkoma LIRR stations. Those buses would drop commuters off at the Mets-Willets Point subway station. Buses from the Manhasset LIRR station in Nassau would also travel to the Willets Point station.
The buses would run only during the AM and PM peak rush hours and MTA officials have said they would only accommodate a "small fraction" of the usual rush hour LIRR crowd so they should be considered only as a last resort for commuters should a strike ensue.
Mangano said the MTA needs to release a "realistic contingency plan" that includes more park-and-ride locations.
In Suffolk County, Assemb. Edward Hennessey, D-Medford, has blasted the MTA's current contingency plan as well, saying it "does not do enough to mitigate the impact on commuters."
"Under the plan, the hardworking men and women of Brookhaven would only have access to two overcrowded bus stations, one in Deer Park and the other in Ronkonkoma," Hennessey said last Friday. "This is unacceptable. Over 17,000 commuters already pass through the Ronkonkoma station on a daily basis, and it’s simply not feasible to overcrowd the station any more. Should LIRR workers go on strike, additional stations must be available to provide commuters with adequate options.”