Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York With a possible Long Island Rail Road strike only three days away, union leaders and the MTA returned to the bargaining table Thursday and could be close to reaching a deal, according to multiple reports.The latest developments come as Gov. Andrew Cuomo decided Wednesday to directly insert himself into the negotiations for the first time, amid calls from other elected officials and LIRR riders that he assert his authority.“The possible LIRR strike would be highly disruptive to the people and economy of Long Island,” he said in a statement Thursday morning. “The parties returned to the negotiating table yesterday morning at my request. Late yesterday, when the conversations had not been fruitful, I began participating in them directly. Those conversations proceeded until late into the night.”Cuomo, who up until Wednesday has refused to get involved, said he convened a meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday at his Manhattan office to continue discussions.“I want to make sure I have done everything I can possibly do to avert a strike,” he said.If Cuomo is unsuccessful in brokering a deal, a strike would begin at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. But the LIRR’s closing procedures would begin before that, most likely on Saturday. Related: How to get to NYC with LIRR Strike Expected Sunday?A work stoppage would halt the nation’s largest commuter railroad and impact 300,000 weekday commuters who would be forced to initiate contingency plans—either telecommuting, taking a vacation, hopping a ferry from Glen Cove, or getting behind the wheel and adding to the already congested roadways.The potential downside to a strike is not limited to headaches for commuters.A strike would also have a severe economic impact on Long Island and New York City, according to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who said Tuesday that a strike could cost the region $50 million daily.Delis, newsstands, small shops, and taxi companies across Long Island also rely on LIRR commuters’ business to stay afloat.So far, the governor has issued carefully worded statements and has not played favorites. He previously said that a strike wouldn’t be a “disaster,” and deferred to Congress, which also declined to intervene.Talks between both sides broke down Monday. On Tuesday, union leaders and the MTA released competing letters to the public and the MTA unveiled a print and radio ad campaign defending their position. They returned to the negotiating table Wednesday at the behest of Cuomo who called on both sides to work “continuously.”The MTA and LIRR union leaders are feuding over demands that both sides find unfair. The MTA is offering 17-percent wage increases over seven years and wants workers to contribute 2-percent to their health care plans; unions are asking for the same wage increase but over six years.It’s unclear if reports that both sides are “close” to reaching a deal is true, or if the statements are another negotiating tactic.Whatever the case, LIRR riders are eagerly waiting to find out if their commutes will go on as usual or if things are about to get a lot more interesting.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke with three more foreign leaders on Wednesday, in the latest show of international support for his election victory. He also committed to an early meeting with one of them: President Moon Jae-in of South Korea.In a statement, the Biden transition team said the president-elect had participated in “congratulatory calls” with Mr. Moon, Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan. The calls with three of America’s closest allies came the day after four that Mr. Biden held with Western European allies, in a return to traditional diplomatic protocol after years of President Trump’s haphazard foreign interactions.- Advertisement – During their 14-minute phone call, Mr. Moon noted Mr. Biden’s “long experience in state affairs, his excellent leadership and clear vision,” said Mr. Moon’s spokesman, Kang Min-seok. Mr. Biden praised South Korea’s largely successful fight against the coronavirus, comparing it with the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic.The two leaders agreed to meet as soon as possible after Mr. Biden’s inauguration, Mr. Kang said.Mr. Moon’s government hopes that the Biden administration will restart stalled negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and drop Mr. Trump’s talk of reducing U.S. troop presence in South Korea, which now numbers 28,500.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – In a Twitter post, Mr. Moon said he and Mr. Biden affirmed their countries’ “robust” alliance and desire for a “peaceful and prosperous” Korean Peninsula.- Advertisement – Mr. Biden spoke with each of the leaders about the coronavirus pandemic, the global economy and “strengthening democracy,” according to descriptions of the calls from the transition office. While the State Department would typically help facilitate such calls for a president-elect and supply him with translators if necessary, a source familiar with Mr. Biden’s calls over the past two days said the Trump administration had refused to provide such assistance.But even as Mr. Trump continues to make false charges of voter fraud and claim to be the true winner of the election, virtually all of the world’s major leaders have now acknowledged that Mr. Biden will be inaugurated in January. The few holdouts include two autocratic allies of President Trump — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil — as well as President Xi Jinping of China. “As president, I’ll stand with South Korea, strengthening our alliance to safeguard peace in East Asia and beyond, rather than extorting Seoul with reckless threats to remove our troops,” Mr. Biden said in an opinion column published by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency days before the election.