SEPTA work­ers vote to au­tho­rize strike

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS -

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.

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