SEPTA, union try to reach agreement before deadline
PHILADELPHIA >> Negotiators for the city’s transit system, the nation’s sixthlargest, and for 5,700 unionized workers are trying to reach agreement on a new contract before a midnight Monday strike deadline.
Officials say a strike by city bus, trolley and subway workers could begin Tuesday if no agreement with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is reached.
The two sides met Saturday, but the union reported no progress on non-economic issues, and talks resumed Sunday, a union representative said.
SEPTA said last week that transit officials hope agreement can be reached but urged all riders to come up with alternative plans should a strike occur, and the company released a contingency guide to help customers plan.
A strike would affect Philadelphia bus, trolley and subway lines but not regional rail lines and service in areas outside the city. The city system’s daily weekday ridership is about 800,000 trips, or about 400,000 people. More than 60,000 public, private and charter school students use the system to get to and from school.
Union officials have said the two sides are divided by pension and health care issues but also have highlighted non-economic issues such as schedules, break time and driver fatigue.
In 2014, union members ratified a two-year contract that averted a threatened walkout by bus drivers, subway and trolley operators, cashiers and mechanics. In 2009, a strike by SEPTA workers lasted six days.