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Policy: Labor

Railroad deal relief for vacation-bound NY mayor

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Photo - Anthony Simon, general chairman of the United Transportation Union, left, and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Thomas Prendergast, right, flank New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a news conference after a tentative Long Island Rail Road labor agreement was reached, at the New York office of Gov. Cuomo, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Eight unions representing 5,400 LIRR workers had threatened to strike this weekend unless an agreement was reached. The workers had been seeking a new deal since 2010. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Anthony Simon, general chairman of the United Transportation Union, left, and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Thomas Prendergast, right, flank New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a news conference after a tentative Long Island Rail Road labor agreement was reached, at the New York office of Gov. Cuomo, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Eight unions representing 5,400 LIRR workers had threatened to strike this weekend unless an agreement was reached. The workers had been seeking a new deal since 2010. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Labor unions,Labor,New York,New York City,Bill de Blasio

NEW YORK (AP) — Now the mayor can take off without taking heat.

A tentative labor deal Thursday at the nation's biggest commuter railroad was a lifeline for riders — and a political relief for Mayor Bill de Blasio. He rankled commuters, got roasted by the city's tabloids and even took a ribbing from comedian Stephen Colbert for planning to leave on an Italian vacation as a potential Long Island Rail Road strike loomed.

The city doesn't run the railroad but would have faced a travel headache, so much of one that officials had sketched out plans to add police to handle traffic jams and even considered suspending alternate-side-of-the-street parking to keep spot-seekers off the roads.

De Blasio noted that plans were in place, and the father of two portrayed his trip as a meaningful time for his family to spend together exploring his roots by visiting his grandparents' hometown.

"This is the first time the family's been able to go away together for a week in a couple of years, and it's a very important moment for us," he said Thursday.

Still, the idea of the mayor — who ran last year as a champion of the middle class — jetting off to Europe while the LIRR's 300,000 daily passengers might be struggling to get to work didn't sit well with some. ("Good luck on that, I'm off to Italy," the Daily News snarked.)

The strike is now off, with a tentative agreement that would raise LIRR workers' pay by 17 percent over 6½ years but require them to start contributing to their health care costs.

And de Blasio's holiday is on, starting Friday.

"He can take his vacation to Italy," Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who helped broker the LIRR agreement, said when asked about the mayor's plans amid Thursday's announcement. Both are Democrats.

"I hope he enjoys it," Cuomo said. "I'm a tad envious."

As for de Blasio, he said he's not certain whether he'll plan another vacation this year.

"We have a lot of work to do," he said, "and I don't usually get to take a lot of vacation."

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Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz.

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