Philadelphia-area transit union authorized to call strike

Workers for the Philadelphia-area transit system have voted to authorize a strike next month if agreement isn’t reached on a new contract

PHILADELPHIA -- Workers for the Philadelphia-area transit system have voted to authorize a strike next month if an agreement isn’t reached on a new contract.

The Transport Workers Union Local 234 said a voice vote at a Sunday morning meeting in south Philadelphia approved a motion to allow union leaders to call a strike if an agreement with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is not reached in a week.

SEPTA said talks have been productive and it hopes to avoid disruptions with agreement on a “fair and financially responsible" pact. The agency said it is still losing about $1 million a day in revenues due to ridership declines with more people working at home during the pandemic, and ridership not expected to return to February 2020 levels.

“We have to find a way to provide fair wages and benefits to employees, while also facing the challenges ahead," SEPTA said. “That’s why SEPTA has presented two paths to TWU leadership: a shorter-term deal that provides wage increases, a pandemic payment and other benefits, and a longer-term proposal that reflects future uncertainties."

A weeklong strike by SEPTA workers in November 2016 was resolved the day before the general election in that year with Democratic city leaders expressing fears that the walkout could weaken turnout and hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.