By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A presidential emergency board, set up just over a week ago to hear the dispute between Septa and two unions serving its Regional Rail lines, has rolled up its sleeves and begun hearing from both sides.
After four years of stalled contract negotiations, the clock is ticking again, but the next inflection point may be a month from now.
The three members of the presidential emergency board have 30 days to look into the dispute and deliver a report with recommendations on how it should be resolved.
The appointment of the panel compelled workers to return to their jobs for 240 days, after which, if the dispute remains unresolved, there could be a strike in February.
The unions, representing locomotive engineers and electrical workers, made their case to the board first, followed by Septa labor relations staff, who were to present the transit agency’s side.
More than 400 workers in the two unions went on strike June 14th — Septa’s first since 1983. The job action lasted one day.
Governor Corbett asked President Obama to step in with an executive order creating the presidential board — similar to a directive Obama signed in March involving the Long Island Rail Road. Those actions restarted labor talks and train service on both the LIRR and Septa.