Unions representing Long Island Rail Road workers in labor negotiations with the MTA say the two sides have reached a "complete impasse," and preparations are underway for the strike to begin over the weekend.
Anthony Simon, the workers' chief negotiator, said Monday afternoon that the eight Long Island Rail Road unions are now proceeding with plans to strike at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.
The MTA and the unions met briefly in Times Square Monday to discuss the looming strike before negotiations collapsed.
MTA President Thomas Prendergast said it became apparent that what the MTA thought was a "gap" in negotiations between the two sides is a "gulf."
"We are not able to get there," Prendergast told reporters.
The first major test of a strike for the LIRR's 130,000 daily commuters would be Monday, July 21, though the union says the transit agency has to start scaling down service Wednesday and Thursday in preparation for the work stoppage.
The MTA says its latest offer includes 17 percent raises over seven years, with retroactive pay going back to 2010. It is seeking concessions including new employee contributions of 4 percent toward health care. The union has already agreed to pay 2.5 percent to health care costs.
The union, which has been working for three years without a contract, wants a larger raise with no health care contributions.
Prendergast called the potential threat a "tool that's used to try and attract attention to an issue."
"If we're acknowledging that these highest paid employees in the industry are going to get the highest raise in the region, let's find a way to pay for it," he said.
The MTA has said, in the event of a strike, it would deploy 350 buses to shuttle customers from eight Long Island locations to three major subway stations in Queens. The buses would be able to accommodate 15,000 customers -- double the capacity of the 1994 strike, but would only operate during rush hour in the peak direction of travel.
A free ferry and additional parking spots would also be available. For more information on the MTA's contingency plans, click here.
Mayor de Blasio said the "coordination between the city and the MTA is very, very strong" and a potential strike would not be catastrophic.
"I think what you're going to find is a lot of people stay home, and a lot of people are away anyway. The effect will be quite manageable," he said.