Albany, NY (July 17, 2014)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast, and United Transportation Union President Anthony Simon, representing a coalition of eight LIRR labor unions, today announced an agreement to settle a four-year-old contract dispute between the MTA and the unions.
Video of the remarks by Governor Cuomo, MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast, and United Transportation Union President Anthony Simon is available on YouTube HERE and available in TV-quality (h264, mp4) format HERE.
More information on today’s announcement is available HERE.
Transcript of Governor, Tom Prendergast, and Anthony Simon remarks:
Governor Cuomo: "Thank you all very much, thank you for coming on such short notice. It's my pleasure to announce today that we have settled a four year dispute dealing with the Long Island labor unions and an agreement with the railroad and the MTA. This is a compromise by both parties after four long years. A compromise by definition means that neither side gets everything that they wanted to get, but it means that we reached an agreement and we can move forward. The Long Island Rail Road workers are valued employees of the railroad, they work dangerous jobs in many places and they are valued employees and we respect them and we respect their service and we want to be fair as New Yorkers to the employees.
"At the same time, the MTA is a public entity, the funds that the MTA has come from the fare riders and from the taxpayers and obviously the economy of the MTA is very important to us. We want to make sure that the fares don't go up; we want to make sure that the MTA has the funds necessary to do the capital repairs that they need to do to keep the system safe. And that was a balance. We wanted fair compensation for valued employees and we wanted to make sure that the MTA didn't need to raise fares and had the funds necessary to manage the funds long term and I believe that we did that. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the MTA chairmen Tom Prendergast who I think showed outstanding leadership in this situation, which was difficult and complex. That's why it went on for four years. I also want to this opportunity to thank Anthony Simon from the United Transportation Union and his colleagues in the labor movement who I believe we fair and reasonable.
"Anthony on a personal note is a tenacious advocate-- he is aggressive, I respect that, but at the end of the day he was not reckless, and he was not irresponsible. And I think it's fair to say that all of the labor representatives fought diligently for the best contract that they could get for their employees. But they were also very aware of the responsibility of the LIRR.
"The Long Island Rail Road in many ways is unique. Long Island, by its configuration doesn't allow many options for commuters, and if the LIRR goes down all of Long Island suffers to the tune of tens of millions of dollars per day. Not to mention the personal hardship, not to mention the safety concerns that would have occurred if we actually had a strike. So, I congratulate both these gentlemen personally, I congratulate all of the representatives of the unions who I believe again represented their constituents well but, also fairly recognizing the responsibility of the LIRR. With that I will turn it over to chairman Tom Prendergast for his comments."
Tom Prendergast: "Echoing what the Governor has said, the agreement reached today provides a fair and reasonable contract—wages that our employees deserve, hardworking employees that need to be able to stay where they need to be financially, and in a way that protects the commuter as well as the long term fiscal stability of the MTA which is exceptionally important to us. He asked Anthony and I, and the other labor leaders sitting here today, to keep our mind on what is most important: the needs of the customer and meeting our own individual responsibilities. In order to do that, it required a compromise on the part of all parties, because you may not be able to achieve exactly what you want, but in the spirit of getting to a deal that is fair and reasonable, takes care of the needs of the employees, protects the commuters and MTA's long-term financial stability, that is what is required. And, that is what we were able to accomplish."
Governor Cuomo: "Thank you, with that I will turn it over to Anthony Simon of the United Transportation union."
Anthony Simon: "Thank you Governor. First, let me say a special thanks to Governor Cuomo, for stepping up at a time when we needed a leader to step up and get involved in a negotiation. A no-nonsense leader who knew what it took to get this deal done, as well as Mr. Prendergast here. This was about the riders, this was definitely about the riders, the labor leaders here have said that. I could not have done it without these great leaders that we worked side by side with. We cared about the riding public; we cared about the financial stability of the railroad as well as our members and their financial stability. This definitely is a fair contract, it's a compromise by all parties to make sure that we continue down the road of a safe, reliable system, and we will continue to do that until we leave this agency. Everyone in this room believed that we could get to a deal and protect the riding public. It was a long road, it was a tough road, but again, thank you to the great leadership of Governor Cuomo and the membership we have behind us, we were able to come to an agreement that is definitely, definitely a ratifiable, fair agreement."