Letters from the archive: 1994 LIRR Strike
MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast and LIRR union leaders continue to meet in hopes of reaching a deal to avert a strike starting July 20.
The last time LIRR workers went on strike was in June 1994 and before than in 1987. The 1987 stoppage led to 11 days of misery for commuters. The 1994 strike lasted 45 hours, and only included one weekday.
These are the letters to the editor that Newsday ran after the 1994 strike and here are letters in Newsday this week 20 years later.
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Ways for the railroad to save money(Credit: Audrey C. Tiernan )
When you are not satisfied with your wages or you think your employer is taking advantage of you, do what the hundreds of thousands of daily commuters do. They get the employment section of the newspaper and seek a better job with better wages. That's the American way - not calling a strike as did Long Island Rail Road union leader Ed Yule.
Michael A. Gualtieri, Syosset
With reference to the LIRR strike: There are ample, fully tested and proven ways for the railroad to save money. When my brother-in-law returned from Amsterdam after a month commuting on the trains, he reported that his ticket was checked only about three times during the whole month while many on the Long Island Rail Road are routinely checked twice each way. There are stiff penalties in Europe for not having a ticket, so if you are caught trying to ride for free you pay dearly. On the LIRR we pay dearly every day for a mindless service by many conductors with good salaries and benefits. It is time to downsize the LIRR.
Howard R. Schneider, Babylon
Overpaid for the past 20 years(Credit: Audrey C. Tiernan )
In the seven years I've commuted from Stony Brook to Manhattan, I've seen cars that are filthy, bathrooms beyond unsanitary and conductors who, besides punching tickets, read newspapers, sleep, smoke (between cars) and don't announce half the stations. In addition, most of them are arrogant and mostly oblivious to any concerns other than their own. A flyer from the union left on my seat a week before the strike cried that they "have families to feed" and haven't had a wage increase in almost four years. Well, if they get the salary I think they do, then they have been overpaid for the past 20 years.
Jesse Schroeder, East Setauket
'Everything that is wrong with life in the New York suburbs in 1994'(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)
The Long Island Rail Road's strike represents everything that is wrong with life in the New York suburbs in 1994. People are forced to pay exorbitant amounts of money for average service. It's what is driving more and more Long Islanders, especially younger adults, to other parts of the United States.
LIRR workers hold Long Island's commuters hostage while they seek better pay, benefits or work conditions. Thousands of young, trainable college grads would kill for the salaries and benefits these people get to punch holes in tickets, open and shut doors and make change.
It's time Long Islanders refuse to give in to the low-life tactics of LIRR workers. Make them miss a few paychecks and maybe they'll realize how lucky they are to make the money they make. Where are LIRR ticket-takers going to earn anywhere near the salary they're paid clicking away on the 5:31 to Westbury?
The time is long ovedue for the LIRR to start acting like so many other businesses today. Cut out the waste, reduce inefficiencies and pay your employees according to what reasonable replacements would earn. Offering retirement incentives might be a good way to kick things off. The worst thing the LIRR can do is raise the pay and reduce the output of its already overcompensated employees.
Long Islanders are being taken for a ride, and it's time to pull the emergency lever.
Matt Paluszek, Austin, Texas. (Editor's Note: The writer is a former Long Islander.)