Travelers in a watchful area for a Long Island Rail Road during Penn Station; workers for a commuter line could travel off a pursuit as shortly as Jul 20.
Keith Bedford for The Wall Street Journal

In 3 weeks, a Long Island Rail Road strike could force tens of thousands of commuters onto clogged roads and overstuffed buses.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is propelling employers to be stretchable if agreement negotiations mangle down and one of a nation’s busiest commuter railroads grinds to a halt. The management is seeking employers to cruise vouchsafing employees work during home or from satellite offices or use vacation time.

“It’s only going to be a nightmare,” pronounced

Andrew Schmidt,

a 50-year-old construction workman who relies on a LIRR to get to pursuit sites from his home in Oceanside. “There is no staying home, and if we don’t get in, we don’t get paid.”

But some-more than commuter hassles hang in a change as a MTA thatch horns with LIRR unions, that could strike as shortly as Jul 20. Both sides are personification a high-stakes diversion that involves a exam of their poke and trade-offs among competing uses of wanting cash.

The MTA estimates that a latest offer to LIRR employees will cost an additional sum of $197 million by 2016, according to disclosures to investors who buy a authority’s bonds. That figure assumes Metro-North Railroad employees determine to identical terms as those offering to LIRR workers.

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The authority, after subsidy down from a progressing position opposite aloft net labor costs, says it will have to compensate for salary and advantages increases with income it had designed to use for financing repairs and construction projects.

Reduced collateral appropriation promises to serve aria a MTA’s finances as it prepares to produce out a five-year spending plans for vital projects after this year.

The management has been finishing a transport line along Second Avenue, fluctuating a 7 line to Manhattan’s west side and building a new LIRR hire underneath Grand Central Terminal. Performing slight fixes and vital repairs could also turn tougher.

“It’ll make it harder—no doubt about it,” pronounced

Richard Ravitch,

who was MTA management from 1979 to 1983. “The problem isn’t only a labor negotiations—the problem is they need another income source to use any debt they would catch in sequence to reconstruct a system.”

An MTA understanding with a LIRR is doubtful to hole a authority’s credit rating or boost a borrowing costs in a nearby future, pronounced

Matt Fabian,

handling executive during Municipal Market Advisors, a metropolitan financial investigate and consulting firm.

But it competence worsen vigour on a MTA to eventually lift income by augmenting fares or state subsidies to say and urge a aging infrastructure. “One or a other is going to have to go up,” Mr. Fabian said. The MTA has pronounced it won’t lift fares over designed 4% increases in 2015 and 2017.

Travelers in a watchful area for Long Island Rail Road trains during Penn Station on Friday.
Keith Bedford for The Wall Street Journal

The MTA’s latest offer would give some 5,400 LIRR employees 17% raises in a understanding that covers 7 years and includes retroactive compensate going behind to 2010. Concessions sought by a management embody requiring stream LIRR employees to minister 2% of their unchanging compensate toward their health-care coverage. They now compensate zero toward such costs.

But new LIRR employees would get a opposite deal. Under a MTA’s latest offer, they would take longer to strech tip compensate levels. New employees would minister 4% of their compensate toward health-care costs. And distinct stream employees, they would also have to keep contributing to their pensions after 10 years on a job.

A less-generous package for destiny employees could break a kinship if destiny employees take emanate with it, pronounced

Rebecca Givan,

a highbrow of labor studies during Rutgers University.

“They will expected censure a union,” she said. “It potentially pits members opposite any other instead of permitting them to have a joined front.”

The MTA met with LIRR kinship member on Friday to plead a authority’s latest offer. But they seemed to make small progress. In a statement, a MTA pronounced a unions attended a meetings yet “have not budged one inch.”

Anthony Simon,

a personality of a bloc of LIRR unions in a talks, pronounced his side offering a counterproposal Friday, yet he declined to offer details. “Unions are here when MTA wants to work on preventing” a strike, Mr. Simon pronounced in an email.

A prolonged or disruptive strike could be bad news for Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his re-election bid. The Democratic administrator was credited with brokering a understanding progressing this year between a MTA and a Transport Workers Union Local 100, that represents employees who run New York City’s transport and sight system.

Mr. Cuomo pronounced during a news discussion Sunday that New Yorkers wish a “fair resolution” to a dispute, yet he didn’t go into details. “Obviously a strike on Long Island would be really deleterious to Long Islanders,” he said.

Meanwhile, LIRR passengers have begun to contemplate how they will get to work if a LIRR shuts down.

Peggy Cole,

65, of Great Neck, pronounced she competence expostulate to a parking lot nearby a transport stop and take that into a city. “Traffic’s going to be horrendous,” she said. “Everybody’s going to have a same idea.”

Others don’t seem too worried.

Carmelo Paris,

32, of Queens, pronounced he competence have to travel a bit over and take a F sight instead of a LIRR. “It only means we have to arise adult a small bit earlier,” he said.

—Mike Vilensky contributed to this article.