Breakthrough in NY rail strike

Labor and management in the six-week Metro-North commuter railroad strike decided it would be better to arbitrate contract differences than to risk government intervention.

The result is expected to be a resumption of train service today for 90,000 New York area passengers, reports Monitor labor correspondent Ed Townsend. Late last week, federal intervention appeared imminent in the contract dispute between the Metropolitan Transporation Authority, parent agency of Metro-North, and the United Transportation Union. At the urging of the New York and Connecticut congressional delegations, the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee opened hearings on legislation to require arbitaration of the dispute.

The move could have opened up a full-fledged campaign for broader antistrike laws. But the parties moved quickly to announce plans to submit differences to binding arbitration, in which both agree to accept the terms of a team of arbitrators. Both sides made significant concessions. One union local quickly approved the plan. The second local involved was expected to do so in time for trains to run again Monday.

Union and commuter line officials said they hoped passengers would be back. Because of rumblings that many would not be, Metro-North said no fares would be collected the first day and that other concessions will be made to regular commuters.

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