SEPTA workers vote to authorize strike
PHILADELPHIA >> Workers for the Philadelphia-area transit system have overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike next month if agreement isn’t reached on a new contract, officials said Sunday.
The Transport Workers Union Local 234 said members unanimously gave strike authorization at a meeting Sunday morning at a Philadelphia union hall.
The current contract covering more than 5,700 workers at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority expires at midnight on Oct. 31, and a walkout could begin immediately after that, officials said.
“We’re not looking at an extension, and we’re not interested in working without a contract,” union president Willie Brown said in a statement. A strike would affect city bus, trolley and subway lines, but would not affect regional rail lines and service in areas outside the city, officials said.
Union officials said the two sides are divided by pension and health care issues as well as what Brown called “safety and fatigue issues.”
In 2014, members ratified a two-year contract that averted a threatened walkout by bus drivers, subway and trolley operators, cashiers and mechanics.
SEPTA said Sunday that such strike authorization votes aren’t unusual, and the two sides exchanged proposals in July and have continued to meet since then.
“We remain hopeful as we work to bargain an agreement in the best interest of our employees, riders and the public,” the transit agency said in a statement.