By Jim Melwert

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — SEPTA’s board held a special meeting Monday in hopes of working out a new labor deal sooner with the two regional rail unions that staged a one-day strike back in June. The board is giving their chairman the authority to immediately sign off on any labor deals that might be reached before the next meeting scheduled in September.

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IBEW local 744’s 215 regional rail workers are currently voting on a tentative deal, and SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey hopes to see progress with the union representing regional rail engineers.

“We’re optimistic,” Casey said. “We’re meeting with BLET this week, and hopefully we can get a deal.”

That deal, he said, would allow them to focus on a contract with the 5,000 bus drivers and subway workers represented by Transport Workers Union. They’re deal expired in March.

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“The TWU is the first one out of the gate,” Casey said, “and they’ll set the pattern for the other unions.”

There are currently no meetings scheduled with TWU, but Casey is hopeful talks will resume soon.

“That’s the only way we can get a deal done,” he said, “and we’re trying to get them back to the table.”

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