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SMART GO 505 union members who work for MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) are preparing to strike as early as March 21, according to a report from the United Transportation Union (UTU).The news follows the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) announcement on Jan. 15 that it would reject proposed wage increases for the LIRR's unionized employees, UTU reported on its website late last week.The increases were among recommendations made by an emergency board appointed by President Barack Obama to settle a long-running dispute between railroad management and unionized employees.The board recommended that LIRR increase wages 8.4 percent over six years (2.9 percent per year) and that employees begin contributing to health insurance premium costs. After factoring in the contributions, the board’s recommendations will produce net wage increases of 2.5 percent per year, union officials stated.The board's wage recommendations would be retroactive to the first year of the contract dispute, which has been ongoing for more than three years. The board rejected MTA's demand that workers accept three years of net zero wage increases, followed by two, 2-percent increases over five years, union officials said.
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