NEW YORK -- A union negotiator for striking Metro-North commuter train workers says state officials have 'disrupted' talks to end the 32-day walkout by seeking federal intervention.
Contract talks to end the strike broke off at 5:15 p.m. EST Wednesday after few hours. No new negotiations were scheduled.
United Transportation Union leaders said they decided to recess because Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Richard Ravitch was absent from negotiations.
The International Brotherhood of Railway Carmen has also said there a possibility of a strike April 14 at the Long Island Rail Road, that nation's largest commuter line which serves 285,000 riders daily. The union has 1,000 members.
Union spokesman Bob Cullen said he sent a telegram to the LIRR and its parent agency, the MTA, setting a strike deadline for 12:01 a.m. April 14. The issue centers on what the LIRR calls 'administrative dismissal,' he said.
'Our position is that it would be an illegal strike and we would take steps to prevent it,' an LIRR spokeswoman said.
Ravitch was in Washington Wednesday to meet Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., and Transportation Seccretary Elizabeth Dole and ask their help in ending the 32-day strike, which has affected 90,000 commuters in northern suburbs and Southwestern Connecticut.
'We can't negotiate due to the fact that Gov. (Mario) Cuomo and Ravitch have sought to go to Washington and disrupted the collective bargaining process,' UTU negotiator William Beebe said.
Cuomo asked Monday for federal intervention in the walkout of trainmen and conductors, which began March 7. Cuomo asked President Reagan to push for a law to implement recommendations of a Dec. 17, 1982, Presidential Emergency Board report calling for specific contract proposals and language.
Beebe said he and fellow negotiator Richard Frear will travel to Washington today to describe the MTA's 'shenanigans' to their area congressmen.
Beebe criticized the MTA, parent agency of Metro-North, for 'moving away from the bargaining table into the political arena,' and said Ravitch was 'prolonging the strike.'
Although Metro-North is run by a state agency, its employees fall under federal labor law. The state's Taylor Law prohibits strikes by public employees coming under state jurisdiction.
In Washington, D'Amato told reporters he and Sen. Daniel Moynihan, D-N.Y., had pushed the White House for legislation to implement the emergency board's recommendations, and he was convinced the MTA had taken a 'reasoned approach' to solving the dispute.
After speaking with Ravitch, D'Amato said if the president did not submit the necessary legislation, or if it failed to gather enough support in Congress, he would propose a bill to put the commuter railroad employees under state jurisdiction, and therefore subject to New York's Taylor Law.