"We will support these picket lines. We will do anything else that's lawful to defend the Long Island Rail Road workers, and we're going to fight this fight," said John Samuelsen, President of the Transport Workers Union.
At a news conference late Friday morning, the president of the Transport Workers Union pledged his support on behalf of the union's 38,000 members.
LIRR workers have been working without a contract for nearly three years. The railroad has agreed to another round of mediation, but without an agreement the LIRR unions could call a strike in mid-July.
"And we hope they come to their senses and they don't strike at all, that's our message loud and clear," said Anthony Simon, General Chairman, LIRR Unions.
A federal panel recommended annual raises of just under 3%. But the MTA has insisted that fares would go up by 12%.
"We believe that there are some common sense workplace changes and basic, reasonable contributions to healthcare, and once those are put in place and generate enough savings, everybody can get a raise," said Adam Lisberg, MTA Chief Spokesman.
While the city's transit unions are forbidden by law to stage a sympathy strike, the union president insists the impact will be felt throughout the city.
"We're explaining to our members that this Long Island Rail Road strike, the success of this strike is in our best interest, and we're advising them to fight to support this strike as if they are fighting to support their own livelihoods. And because, ultimately, that's what it is," Samuelsen said.