By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A board appointed by President Obama to review the long-running contract dispute between SEPTA and its regional rail workers has released its findings, and for the most part the panel has sided with SEPTA.
The Presidential Emergency Board found that SEPTA is correct in insisting that pay raises for the Regional Rail engineers and electricians follow the same pattern as raises for subway and bus operators. And the panel rejected the union’s contention that the pension boost given to bus drivers should translate to more dollars for the rail workers.
The three-member board also rejected the idea of retroactive pay for the workers.
The findings are non-binding.
“What we hope is that the board’s recommendations create a foundation, a fair platform, for us to all go back to the bargaining table, so that we can resume talks and negotiate a contract,” said SEPTA spokesperson Jeri Williams.
Steven Bruno, vice president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, says the union is still studying the board’s report.
“We’re not prepared to make any formal response,” he told KYW Newsradio today. “We haven’t had an opportunity to review it with counsel, and we haven’t had an opportunity to discuss with the other craft (the electrician’s union) that’s involved.”
Either side could request a second panel. However, SEPTA ‘s Williams says the earliest the unions could again walk out would be mid-October.
The engineers have been working without a contract for four years. The union had requested binding arbitration to settle the disupte. SEPTA would not agree to that.