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LIRR union, MTA resume talks, fail to reach deal

LIRR customers board a train at Penn Station

LIRR customers board a train at Penn Station on Dec. 20, 2013.

Face-to-face contract negotiations resumed Friday between Long Island Rail Road union leaders and MTA managers for the first time in nearly two months, but they did not hammer out a deal.

"The parties met and the discussion was productive," said Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "While no agreement has been reached, the parties agreed that today should lead to future talks."

Donovan did not say whether a new meeting date was set.

Without a contract in place, 6,000 LIRR workers could strike July 20, stranding 300,000 daily commuters.

The unions have offered to extend the July 20 strike deadline until after Labor Day -- a proposal the MTA has not accepted.

Anthony Simon, general chairman of the LIRR's largest labor group, the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union/United Transportation Union, did not respond Friday to requests for comment.

The fresh round of talks came about after MTA officials and union leaders exchanged phone calls in recent days, according to an MTA source and Simon, who spoke to Newsday on Thursday.

In May, a White House-appointed mediation panel issued its nonbinding recommendation to resolve the four-year-long contract dispute.

The three-member board backed an offer put forth by labor leaders, which called for 17 percent wage increases over six years and no changes to employee work rules or pensions. It was the second time that a board appointed by President Barack Obama has sided with the unions.

The MTA had rejected that proposal, saying it could force the agency to raise fares or underfund other financial obligations. The authority had offered the unions 11 percent raises over six years, changes to pensions and extension of wage-progression schedules.

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