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Officials: Tentative pact for Belmont workers

The crowds at the 2011 Belmont Stakes. (June

The crowds at the 2011 Belmont Stakes. (June 11, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

A threatened strike by unionized workers at Belmont Park was averted Wednesday when officials announced a tentative contract.

The settlement was confirmed by the union, Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who controls the board of the New York Racing Association, which operates Belmont.

Union members voted in April to authorize a strike, but there never was a deadline nor a threat to strike near Saturday's running of the Belmont Stakes, said Vincent McElroen, union financial secretary.

Cuomo released a statement announcing the settlement, but it gave no details. It said the agreement extends the contract through Feb. 28, 2014.

"The agreement addresses all major economic issues, including shift schedules, benefits for active employees, as well as pension and retiree medical benefits," the Cuomo statement said.

Cuomo took control of the NYRA board last month after years of financial problems and scandals at the racing organization.

A total of about 150 Local 3 members at Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga racetracks, all operated by NYRA, have been working without a contract since February 2011. About 80 union members covered by the contract work at Belmont getting the horses into the starting gate and doing track maintenance. A mediator, appointed last week, met with both sides Tuesday.

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