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SEPTA workers, riders await Nov. 1 decision on union strike

SEPTA workers are prepared to undergo negotiations in the face of a union strike.

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SEPTA, The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, is undergoing negotiations which may or may not lead to a union strike on Nov. 1. 

Negotiations originally began in July. Five thousand workers will walk off the job if the strike occurs.

The talks concern higher wages, better parental leave terms, and financial assistance for families of COVID-19 victims.

Additional points of negotiation are better safety measures, such as a higher police presence across the transit system for worker and rider protection, as has been called for.

Willie Brown, the Local 234 President, spoke to union members about the importance of the demands being met.

“SEPTA has offered us lower wages than everyone else in the region, and we’re not going to accept lower wages and we’re not going to take that. You deserve more and your family deserves more,” he said.

The Transport Workers Union Local 234 brought forth a strike authorization, but the action does not currently guarantee a strike. 

Instead, the authorization grants leverage in negotiating a new contract, as a current contract expires at midnight on Oct. 31.

If a strike happens, buses, trolleys, subways and elevated train lines in the city will be impacted, but regional rail will remain fundamentally unaffected.

Regional Rail, Suburban Transit (bus, trolley, Norristown High Speed Line), LUCY (Loop through University City) and CCT Connect will continue to run.

Green and Gold Loop service will continue regular routing from 30th Street Station to select University City destinations. Regular CCT Connect service will operate for registered ADA and Shared Ride customers. 

Where these modes of transport will be affected is in a major uptick in traffic. Rail lines will likely see more traffic due to added stops and more frequent service.

In the past few months, SEPTA has faced some troubling incidents including the beating of an employee and a number of sexual assaults. These incidents have contributed to the ongoing conversation regarding the state of SEPTA.

If a strike does occur, this will not be SEPTA’s first, as illustrated in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article. The last SEPTA strike to take place was in 2016.

For riders, unused passes purchased before service interruption may be refunded if a strike occurs.

SEPTA has also posted a contingency plan on its website, where service information in the event of an interruption is listed.

The decision on a SEPTA strike will develop significantly on Nov. 1, when the current contract has expired.

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