By Matt Rivers
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — SEPTA and TWU Local 234 officials resumed negotiations Sunday morning, after both sides reported serious progress on Friday and said they were close to a deal.
Now, there has been a significant change in the tone of the negotiations, and any deal that was on the table is now in jeopardy.
Both sides have been negotiation since 11am Sunday morning, and in that time SEPTA officials say they’ve only met face to face with TWU leadership once for about 20 minutes.
SEPTA Director of Media Relations Jerri Williams says they proposed a 2 year deal with a 2% wage increase the first year and 2.75% increase the second year. In return, SEPTA wanted a 1% increase in health care contributions.
As for where the negotiations stand now, Williams says, “We’re not sure. On Thursday we thought we were pretty close too. That’s what they said. We agreed that there was progress, but since then there’s been no movement.”
The union has told CBS3 they proposed a counter-offer very recently, although they declined to provide details on that offer. They did say the wage increases and employee healthcare contributions that SEPTA proposed did not work for them, going so far as to describe the SEPTA offer as classism designed to limit the earnings of middle class workers.
Head of TWU Local 234 Willie Brown said, “The overall package has to be good. But as I said, I’m not asking for anything they don’t have. We’re not trying to get rich, but let’s be fair about it.”
If no deal is struck about 5,000 employees could go on strike as early as Monday.
In the event of a strike, all city bus and trolley lines, the Market Frankford El, the Broad Street Subway, the Norristown High Speed line, and some bus routes in Bucks and Montgomery Counties would be shut down. Regional Rail lines would not be affected.
Both sides say they will not be leaving the table and they will continue working towards a new contract through the evening hours today.