PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After the union representing SEPTA employees threatened to take “job action” Thursday, the transit system now says TWU Local 234 will not call for a work stoppage. The announcement comes after the union said SEPTA was not doing enough to protect workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Amid the threat, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney called union president Willie Brown to ask the union not to call for a work stoppage. The mayor said a potential stoppage would have jeopardized lives as health care workers and essential employees rely on SEPTA to get to work.READ MORE: Philadelphia Mother Pleading To Find Driver Who Struck Son In Hit-And-Run, 'Guardian Angel' Who Found Him
“SEPTA’s top priority remains the health and safety of our customers and employees. We will continue working closely with our workforce and union leaders to provide the safest possible environment for essential travel during the COVID-19 crisis,” SEPTA said in a statement.
Transport Workers Union Local 234 claims SEPTA isn’t doing enough to protect its employees.
“I don’t think SEPTA is taking it serious enough, in our opinion,” Brown said. “We have right now over 100 positive tests, we have three deaths — they have one in our Regional Rail — that’s four total.”
A SEPTA employee sent Eyewitness News pictures as evidence of what they say they’re seeing in some of the subway concourses — piles of needles and drug paraphernalia leading to a dangerous work environment.
“We’d like to see them lower the amount of people allowed on the bus, to 15 on the vehicles,” Brown said.READ MORE: Philadelphia's Evil Genius Beer Company Giving Out Free Beers To Those Getting Vaccinated In May
Many essential workers, like health care professionals and grocery store employees, rely on mass transit to get to and from work every day. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, their jobs are crucial.
Among a set of demands listed on the union’s website, members want SEPTA to take employees’ temperatures, test air quality on vehicles and limit the number of riders to 15 onboard SEPTA vehicles.
They also want more transparency surrounding which employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.
After the union agreed not to take action, SEPTA says it will continue operating on a Lifeline Service Schedule.MORE NEWS: Friday Night In New Jersey Looks Like Something Out Of 2019 As Restrictions Eased
CBS3’s Natasha Brown contributed to this report.