Updated on 06/06/2012 2:51PM

Belmont Stakes 2012: NYRA, union reach agreement on three-year contract


ELMONT, N.Y. – The show will go on uninterrupted.

A threatened strike by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3 that could have threatened the running of Saturday’s Belmont Stakes was averted Wednesday when the two sides reached a tentative three-year agreement that runs through Feb. 28, 2014.

Specifics of the deal were not available, but according to a joint press release issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, the agreement addresses all the major economic issues, including shift schedules, benefits for active employees, as well as pension and retiree medical benefits.

"The Local 3 Negotiating Committee should be commended for protecting not only the jobs of their members, but their pension and welfare benefits as well," said Chris Erikson, business manager for Local 3.

Local 3 represents about 130 employees at Belmont Park, including those that work on the maintenance crew and the starting gate crew. They have been working without a contract for more than two years.

"We are pleased to announce that after several days of intense negotiations, NYRA and IBEW Local 3 have come to an agreement for the maintenance and assistant starters bargaining units," NYRA president and COO Ellen McClain said in a press release. "Now, together, we can focus exclusively on Saturday’s Belmont Stakes."

Local 3 claimed NYRA was seeking a 30 percent reduction in wages and health benefits. NYRA, which had stoked the flames during negotiations by saying a threatened strike would have been "self-serving" on the part of Local 3, has said it was seeking to reduce its medical benefit liability, which had nearly doubled over the past three years – from $61 million in 2008 to $121 million in 2011.