PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The region will not be on the move as usual after SEPTA workers, and the transit agency, were unable to reach a deal to avoid a strike which will impact buses, trolleys and subway lines.
Due to the strike, Regional Rail will be the only operating means of transportation.
Pension and health benefits were the top priorities for members of the Transport Workers Union Local 234 as negotiations took place.
Sources confirmed to Eyewitness News that the issue of pensions was the last sticking point in the final hours of negotiations on Monday night.
Workers and students in the city rely heavily on SEPTA, but officials also worry about the fact that a strike could have an impact on Election Day on November 8.
The last time SEPTA experienced a strike was in 2009. The strike lasted for six days. This will mark the 12th time, in the transit agency’s history, that they will experience a strike.
After the decision came down at midnight, SEPTA announced a statement regarding the union’s decision:
SEPTA negotiators have worked tirelessly for months in an effort to reach a fair contract agreement with TWU Local 234 and avoid a service disruption. Unfortunately, the union’s leaders tonight elected to take the 4,700-plus members who work in the City Transit Division out on strike.
The decision by TWU President Willie Brown leaves thousands of SEPTA customers without the transit services they rely on for travel to-and-from work, school and medical appointments. In doing so, Mr. Brown walked away from a contract offer that would have provided his members pay raises, enhanced pension benefits, maintained health care coverage levels and continued job security, while also remaining fair and affordable for the taxpayers and riders who fund SEPTA.
SEPTA negotiators stand ready and willing to continue bargaining, and the Authority urges Mr. Brown and TWU leadership to return to the bargaining table to negotiate an agreement that will end a severely disruptive work stoppage.
We are hopeful that a tentative agreement will be reached before Election Day. If we foresee an agreement will not come to pass, SEPTA intends to seek to enjoin the strike for November 8th to ensure that the strike does not prevent any voters from getting to the polls and exercising their right to vote.
The news came after reports that there was some hope that it deal would be reached.
“Despite months of constructive and innovative proposals from our side of the table, management has refused to budge on key issues including safety issues that would save lives and not cost SEPTA a dime. There is no new agreement, so we are on strike,” said TWU Local 234 President Willie Brown.
More than 5,000 members of the union are now on strike.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney responded to the strike with the following statement:
“I urge both SEPTA and the Transport Workers Union to maintain communication despite the work stoppage. Tens of thousands of Philadelphians rely on the buses, trolleys and subways, so it is vital for everyone that this situation be resolved as quickly as possible.
“And I urge residents to have patience during this period. We expect that traffic will be greatly impacted, so make alternate travel arrangements as soon you are able, including carpooling, walking and biking. Check with your employer about the possibility of a flexible work schedule to avoid the rush hours. And please — check on elderly neighbors who rely on SEPTA for trips to the grocery store or doctor. This period won’t be easy, but by pulling together as a community we can lessen the difficulties for everyone.”