De Blasio says late-July vacation season would make an LIRR strike "quite manageable"

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at the New Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at the New York City Bike Expo on Friday, May 16, 2014. Photo Credit: Bryan Smith

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Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that a strike by Long Island Rail Road workers would be "quite manageable" because it would take place in late July -- a time when many people take their vacations.

De Blasio, who leaves on a vacation to Italy Friday, said the ability to work from home would also help soften the blow of a potential strike for many commuters.

The mayor has said he would interrupt his trip, which includes official visits with Italian government representatives, and fly back to New York in the case of an emergency, but he was noncommittal about whether a work stoppage would qualify.

"It depends on the particular dynamics," de Blasio said Monday at an unrelated news conference in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. "We hope and pray there will not be a strike. And you may get to the deadline, and there may be a mutual extension."

De Blasio said an "exceedingly able" staff will run City Hall in his absence and he would monitor how well the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's contingency plans are working if there is a strike.

The eight LIRR workers' unions are set to strike Sunday if a contract agreement is not reached with the MTA. De Blasio, his family and three aides are to leave Friday for a 10-day tour of Italy, the mayor's ancestral homeland.

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With LIRR riders making 300,000 trips daily, many to the city from Long Island, city transportation and emergency officials are preparing for an influx of vehicle traffic and clogged roadways in Queens and Brooklyn leading into Manhattan.

Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris will be in charge of day-to-day operations. De Blasio will have daily call-ins with his staff.

The mayor said he will fly coach to Italy. He said he does not have plans to visit Pope Francis, though the mayor called the pope the "No. 1 global voice" in combating inequality and said he hopes the pope will soon schedule a visit to New York City.

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