NEW YORK — Negotiators in the Long Island Rail Road labor dispute remained far apart Friday as they faced a midnight strike deadline by 11 unions against the nation's largest commuter rail line.
"A strike is probably likely due to an insignificant amount of movement," said Bruce McIver, president of the railroad, which carries about 272,000 passengers daily.
The federal mediator, Walter C. Wallace, also appeared discouraged as the deadline neared.
"I think that, as the clock moves on, there's less opportunity for optimism. There's still a long way to go," he said.
The unions have been without a contract since the end of 1984.
Officials from Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island urged commuters to plan on taking buses and setting up car pools. A walkout would not be fully felt by commuters until Tuesday, however, because Monday is a federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.