By Mark Abrams
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The union representing SEPTA’s bus drivers, train operators, mechanics and support staff wants to start contract talks early with the transit agency.
Transport Workers Union Local 234 President John Johnson says the contract doesn’t expire until mid-March, 2014, but the union wants to start talks now.
“For far too long, historically, contract demands are not exchanged until possibly December,” he says. “Our goal is to address non-economic issues right now.”
Johnson says among the key issues are addressing passenger assaults on transit drivers and the permitted uses of the video from surveillance cameras installed on the trains and buses.
SEPTA’s Jere Williams says opening talks early is okay with management.
“We’re definitely willing to start the process early,” says Williams. “We would love to be able to get an agreement prior to the March 15, 2014 deadline.”
Both sides say they want to avoid a repeat of November, 2009 six-day transit strike.