In this article, you will get all the information regarding How union muscle keeps expensive rules, high fares in place on LIRR
Long Island Rail Road’s costly work rules—despite repeated calls for reform—due to its overwhelming clout by militant unions, and the fear of angering the all-important suburban voter, current and former MTA insiders Have to say
A seven-month investigation published this month revealed the true toll of these rules: They force the MTA to charge commuters some of the highest fares in the country and they dramatically limit the service that LIRR runs. This could mean longer wait times for trains and more crowded ridership conditions.
– Advertisement –
Despite the deplorable state of the rails, as a former MTA executive told The Post: “No one is going to kill bears here because Long Island is the most important voter constituency for a governor.”
Railroad workers are among a select group of state employees who retain right to strike thanks to federal law — and he’s been laid off dozens of times since Albany took over the LIRR in the 1960s.
A tally kept by the LIRR’s electricians union calculated 42 stop work — both legal and illegal — between 1960 and 1995. That’s roughly one strike per year, some of which got so bad they needed intervention From the White House and Capitol Hill.
– Advertisement –
Workers also staged a walkout in protest of The Post’s 2019 series on the abuse of overtime at the railroad, which led to indictments of five workers.
Just bringing the LIRR’s labor costs and capacity in line with Metro-North’s would save the MTA more than $200 million annually — spending cuts the agency desperately needs as it tries to help recover from the coronavirus-induced ridership decline. Asks for a bailout from Albany.
But those changes would run up against the LIRR’s largest union — SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, headed by Anthony Simon, who wields great influence.
One MTA insider said, “It’s easier to set more taxpayers’ money on fire than to fix it.” “The union runs that railroad. Anthony Simon is in charge.
Simon declined to comment.
Independent observers say that behind-the-scenes considerations were a major reason for the then government drafting the legal language. Andrew Cuomo ruled out major changes to the LIRR while ordering a now-cancelled overhaul of MTA operations.
“The failure to consider merging or equalizing certain aspects of Metro North Railroad and Long Island Railroad operations in the 2019 ‘transformation plan’ tells you all you need to know about the politics surrounding commuter railroads,” said Rachel Foss, top MTA expert at Albany Public Interest Group. “The ecclesiastical interests have often triumphed over the public interest.”
Evidence of Simon’s clout can be seen in a photo distributed by the staff of Cuomo’s replacement, Cathy Hochul.
In it, Simon sits next to the governor as they ride to an October ribbon cutting celebrating the completion of the $2.4 billion project adding a third track to the Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville. The pair was all smiles.
The following month, Hochul became the first governor on Long Island to be soundly defeated while still winning the office.
“The Long Island Rail Road Union failed to vote for Hochul,” said the MTA for a long time regarding the election result. “He owes Hochul nothing.”
Hochul’s office demurred when asked to comment on her plans for the LIRR and its union agreements, several of which are currently under negotiation.
“Coming from a union family, Governor Hochul knows how organized labor can create good-paying jobs and lift New Yorkers into the middle class,” spokeswoman Avi Smalls said in a statement. “Governor Hochul is always looking for ways to improve the MTA experience for riders, and she will continue to work with labor and MTA leadership to provide high-quality, efficient service.”
For generations, both Republicans and Democrats have moved mountains to win over Long Island voters and commuters.
Nassau and Suffolk counties were often home to the most competitive districts in the state and remaining competitive is a necessary component to winning statewide office or control of the State Senate.
In 1994, an MTA push for work rule concessions triggered a two-day strike amid then-Gov. Mario Cuomo’s unsuccessful bid for a fourth term.
“She and her son [disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo] Very worried about losing votes in the suburbs,” said a former official, recalling the 1994 controversy.
Within a few years, Republican Gov. George Pataki and US Sen. Al D’Amato committed the MTA to building a link between the LIRR and Grand Central Terminal to give Long Island commuters an alternative to Penn Station.
History then repeated itself in 2014, with the younger Cuomo in Albany seeking his first re-election as governor – as the MTA and LIRR unions again faced off and threatened to strike.
The end result upheld liberal working rules and gave unions a 17% raise over six and a half years in exchange for workers contributing a small percentage of their wages to healthcare and retirement.
MTA officials again indicated their willingness to attack the work rules in 2019, when a Post investigation revealed how LIRR employees filed time cards that claimed they worked overtime physically. Did an impossible amount of work.
But sources say that after the outcry subsided, Cuomo’s office made it clear he was not interested in taking on the LIRR’s unions.
A former MTA official said, “The governor didn’t want to get into a political fight with a really important group in the most competitive part of the state.” “And they had a priority, which were clean stations.”
A spokesman for Cuomo said the executive made the best deals he could at the time, without considering politics or the eventual loss of his father.
“What happened in the past was the furthest thing from our minds at the time,” said Rich Azzopardi. “We worked hard to get the most fair deal possible for commuters and workers alike.”
How union muscle keeps expensive rules, high fares in place on LIRR
Latest News by ReportedCrime.com