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LIRR Strike Averted

by Associated Press, Frank Eltman, Rachelle Blidner
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LIRR train

Marc Flores, flickr

LIRR riders can commute normally n Monday

A tentative deal was reached Thursday that averts a strike by workers at the nation's largest commuter railroad, a top union negotiator said.

 Anthony Simon told The Associated Press about the tentative agreement with the Long Island Rail Road.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo got involved in negotiations Wednesday. He said Thursday morning that time was running short to resolve the contract dispute before the strike deadline of 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

Cuomo had said everything must be done to prevent the railroad's 300,000 daily riders "from being held hostage" by a strike.

He planned a 1:15 p.m. news conference to discuss the deal.

 The railroad's 5,400 unionized workers have been without a contract since 2010.

The talks resumed Wednesday and went late into the night after two days of increased tension and bleak prospects for resolution stemming from a railroad proposal to make future employees contribute to their to health and pension plans.

 President Barack Obama appointed two emergency boards to help resolve the dispute, in December 2013 and May of this year, but the MTA rejected both nonbinding recommendations. The emergency board's last proposal called for a 17 percent raise over six years while leaving work rules and pensions alone.

The MTA offered a 17 percent wage increase over seven years but also wants pension and health care concessions, which both sides agree is the sticking point holding up an agreement.

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