By Walt Hunter and Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – As the 12:01 a.m. Saturday deadline for a SEPTA regional rail strike approaches, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is getting involved, according to his Press Secretary.
Corbett has directed his Secretary of Transportation to “help get to the root of the issues.” The Press Secretary adding, “Both parties need to keep the needs of the people of Southeastern Pennsylvania in the front of their minds as they sit at the table.”
CBS 3 has also confirmed that an offer for a two-week extension was presented. It is not yet known how union officials responded.
After arriving for their session with a federal mediator and spending three hours behind closed doors at a Center City law office, all parties left in the early afternoon and will return at 8 p.m. this evening.
The sticking point is a disagreement over the value of pension contributions SEPTA makes to its other unions and that has kept 450 electricians and engineers working without a contract for about four years.
The mediator officially gave up, last month, triggering a 30 day cooling off period that ends at midnight, allowing the unions to strike, but called for one last try today.
The two sides have been working through the mediator but they’re expected to come together this evening and try to do in four hours what they haven’t been able to in four years.
A strike would stop service on 13 regional rail lines that serve more than 120,000 riders each workday.
Workers on SEPTA’s city and suburban divisions would continue to operate buses and trolleys.
SEPTA officials did not comment on the session with the mediator or any developments during the day.
For more information on SEPTA’s Regional Rail service interruption plan in event of a strike, click here.
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