By Tim Jimenez

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  SEPTA has reached a tentative contract agreement with one of the two Regional Rail unions that went on strike in June.

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The deal still has to be ratified by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), which represents 220 SEPTA Regional Rail electrical workers.

Arthur Davidson, IBEW System Council 7 general chairman, said ballots were sent out Tuesday and are due back no later than August 25th.

SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams said that if the deal goes through, workers will get a raise adding up to 11.5 percent and the four-year labor dispute would end.

The Regional Rail electricians and engineers went on a one-day strike in June.   It ended after a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) was established.  The three-person panel heard from both sides, and in July released its findings.  Davidson characterizes the agreement as “consistent” with the board’s recommendations.

As for the engineers, who are still without a contract, a SEPTA spokeswoman said they are “narrowing the differences.” However, leadership with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) begs to differ.

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“We are aware that our brothers in the IBEW have resolved their dispute with SEPTA,” said Steve Bruno, BLET vice president. “However, we remain as far apart as we were when PEB 246 rendered its recommendations. I would not characterize the discussions as negotiations. Our discussions are best described as ‘tense.’ ”

SEPTA will hold a special meeting Monday morning during which board members will vote on granting chairman Pat Deon the authority to sign the contract after the unon votes on ratification.


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