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LIRR's Largest Union Votes To Approve Strike

MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The Long Island Rail Road's largest union has unanimously voted to strike.

Members of the Sheet Metal, Air and Transportation Union cast their votes Wednesday night in Massapequa.

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A labor stoppage could come on March 21 unless an agreement is reached on a new three-year contract or the Metropolitan Transportation Authority asks the White House to intervene with a second Presidential Emergency Board.

The request for the second board would put off the strike until July at the earliest, Newsday reported.

The dispute is over pay raises and union givebacks. The MTA said it can't afford any increases. The agency recently rejected a mediator's proposal because it does not include a work rule change to trim expenses and keep fare hikes down.

LIRR unions have been without a contract since 2010. Smaller LIRR unions have approved similar votes to walk off the job.

A strike would send 300,000 daily commuters scrambling to find an alternate means of transportation.

"You could drive, but then you'd have to pay for parking in the city, it's a hassle," one commuter said.

"It'd be very difficult for the people to get home, get to work, get to school," another commuter said.

"All the highways will be parking lots," another said.

If a strike happens it would be LIRR's first since 1994.

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