As someone who did it, I can easily say that commuting every day on the Long Island Rail Road is a particularly hellish experience. But it's about to get a lot worse, because Long Island Rail Road workers are planning to go on strike. Meaning the busiest railroad in North America is going to come to a halt.
The LIRR, for all its faults (and there are many, ranging from consistently late trains, to overcrowded trains, to often no trains at all, all for the joyously low price of hundreds of dollars a month), is the lifeblood of Long Island. Almost 335,000 passengers ride it every single day, back and forth to New York City. Without it, people can't get to their jobs, or their homes.
Without it, a huge part of the New York City suburbs are screwed.
So it should come as a pleasant surprise, then, that talks between the unions that represent the LIRR's wasteful workers and its equally incompetent management appear to have completely broken down, and a planned strike for 12:01 AM Sunday seems imminent. Via the Wall Street Journal:
"There's a long distance between the offer we have up on the table and their willingness and ability to be able to respond to that and close this gap," [MTA Chairman Tom] Prendergast said in a statement Monday following the meeting at a Midtown Manhattan law firm.
Talks broke shortly after the noon meeting began, [Chief LIRR Union Spokesman Anthony] Simon said.
"They did not counter whatsoever," he said of the MTA.
Workers are planning to start slowing down service on Wednesday to "secure equipment" before the planned strike. And if the railroad stops, everything is affected. Those workers that can't stay home will likely attempt to try driving to work, ensnarling traffic throughout the New York area.
Which is already thoroughly ensnarled.
The MTA's current offer includes 17% raises over seven years, and new employees would have to keep contributing to their pensions after 10 years on the job.
Let me repeat that: the unions see it as unfair that only new employees, not old employees, would have to contribute to their pensions, for retirement, after the first 10 years.
Can you imagine retiring with a full pension after only contributing for 10 years? And it's not like the LIRR has a history of multimillion-dollar pension fraud, or anything.
And this is just a Union Thing either, as MTA management recently announced that they just happened to find $1.9 billion dollars lying around, but yes, of course they're still going to hiking up the fares 15%.
Everyone here is beautifully incompetent, and you, the commuter, are going to suffer. Of course.
Do I sound bitter? If so, that's because I'm bitter.
Photo credit: Marc Flores