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Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials announced late last week that they intend to participate in contract negotiation talks between representatives from MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and eight labor unions at a meeting scheduled for tomorrow by the National Mediation Board.If the parties can't reach an agreement, the unions could launch a strike as early as July 20 under rules established by a Presidential Emergency Board, although union leaders have asked MTA officials to extend a 60-day cooling off period into September. Unionized LIRR employees have been working under a contract that expired in June 2010.“We are eager to get back to the bargaining table through the National Mediation Board on Tuesday,” said Anita Miller, MTA's director of labor relations, in a press release. “We are hoping the unions will come prepared to engage in substantive negotiations on our latest fair and generous proposal, which meets the demands of current LIRR employees by offering 17 percent raises, including $22,000 in average back pay.”
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