By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Thousands of commuters are affected by what happens between Friday and Sunday night between SEPTA and its largest union.
SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams says progress has been made during meetings between SEPTA management and Transport Workers’ Union Local 234 team leaders. The discussion centered on a possible two-year contract.
Union president Willie Brown says wages and healthcare contributions remain big issues, but as he put it, “there’s no reason why we can’t get this thing done.”
Local 234’s city division represents about 5,000 bus drivers, subway and trolley operators and mechanics and maintenance workers.
In mid-March when its contract expired, the TWU decided to work without a contract, instead of striking. The last strike, in 2009, lasted six days.
The transit agency says it has a contingency plan in place of alternative ways for passengers to get around in the event of a walkout.
Local 234’s Suburban and Frontier divisions also have contracts expiring Sunday night.
If SEPTA’s unions strike, buses, the Broad Street and Market Frankford Lines and trolleys would be affected.
UTU Local 1594’s contract expired earlier this week, and if they join any job action, it would also affect the Norristown Hi-Speed Line, Trolley Routes 101 and 102 and buses in Delaware County.
The Regional Rail lines will continue to operate.
Informal negotiations are slated to resume Sunday night, and both sides say they remain optimistic.