06/05/2012 4:59PM

Belmont Stakes 2012: Cuomo encourages NYRA, union to settle dispute

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the New York Racing Association and the union which represents the track’s maintenance and starting gate crew to settle their differences before Saturday’s Belmont Stakes in which I’ll Have Another will attempt to become the sport’s 12th Triple Crown winner.

“This year's Belmont Stakes has the potential to be a truly remarkable event, attracting worldwide attention and millions of dollars of economic activity for the New York metropolitan area and the entire region,” Cuomo said. “The event has been planned for months with excitement continuing to build. It is simply unacceptable that a two-year-long labor dispute would imperil this special event.

“My administration has been in touch with NYRA and the unions, and we have urged both to resolve this dispute amicably,” Cuomo said. “Both sides should put aside their differences and do what is best for the people of the State of New York: ensure a smooth and successful Belmont Stakes.”

Cuomo released a statement Tuesday afternoon after it was reported that the International Brotherhood of International Workers Local 3 authorized its 130 members to strike, an event that could impact this Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.

Members of Local 3 were scheduled to hold a rally outside Belmont’s main gate Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.

NYRA and Local 3, which represents electricians, maintenance crew workers and the starting gate crew, have been working without a contract since Feb. 2010.

Local 3 claims NYRA is seeking a 30-percent reduction in wages and benefits. NYRA claims that its medical benefit liability has nearly doubled over the past three years - from $61 million in 2008 to $121 million in 2011.

Representatives of NYRA and Local 3 were expected to meet with a mediator on Tuesday.