The city of Philadelphia filed a motion in state court Sunday seeking an injunction to temporarily halt the SEPTA strike for Election Day.
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"On November 8, 2016, hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians will cast ballots for President, Senator, and other important offices. The City has a legal responsibility to ensure that Philadelphians can exercise their constitutional right to vote," said City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante.
City officials say they are requesting an injunction for Election Day only and are not requesting a permanent injunction.
"Though there are extensive efforts to minimize the effect of any transit strike on Election Day, unquestionably, such an Election-Day strike will make it practically impossible for many Philadelphians to participate in this election," Tulante said. "While there is still time for SEPTA and TWU to resolve the strike before Election Day, the Law Department must act now to ensure that as many Philadelphia residents as possible can vote without disruption. As a result, we are asking the Court for temporary relief."
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced he intends to file a brief in support of an injunction to end the strike completely.
"Due to the inability of SEPTA and TWU to reach a compromise, I will file an amicus brief in support of the immediate injunction pending before the court to ensure that the system is fully operational and able to serve the individuals who rely solely on SEPTA for their transportation needs," Wolf said in a released statement Sunday. "“This strike has been devastating for so many individuals and their families and has created extreme hardships for the city and for businesses. The time for it to end is now.”
SEPTA late Friday filed a request for a court injunction, saying the strike is threatening public safety and will interfere with Election Day voting. A judge delayed a ruling and will take additional testimony on Monday.
The union's 4,700 workers walked off the job after midnight Oct. 31, shutting down transit service that provides about 900,000 rides a day. In his statement Sunday, Wolf described the impact the strike was having on Philadelphia.
“Over the last several weeks, I have had multiple conversations with both SEPTA and TWU and urged them to come together and reach a fair agreement," he wrote. "Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania residents rely on SEPTA to travel each day to and from work and school, and to the grocery store and medical appointments among other needs."
"It is clear that both sides have failed to reach an agreement and the work stoppage has crippled the City of Philadelphia’s transportation system. It has become not only an issue that is impacting the ability of the elderly and individuals with disabilities to access care, and students to receive an education, but it is also one that has grave economic consequences for both the city and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The strike is also unfair to the workers who want to return to do the job they were trained to do and to serve the people of Pennsylvania."
On Saturday Transport Workers Union local president Willie Brown accused SEPTA of relying on the courts to end the strike, which began Tuesday, instead of bargaining on pensions and other issues.
“We can’t get anywhere at the bargaining table because SEPTA has pinned their hopes on getting an injunction to end the strike,” Brown wrote in a released statement. “SEPTA Board Chairman Pat Deon’s plan all along has been to rely on the courts rather than negotiations. He is the one using the election as leverage. This is not the way to end a strike or get an agreement. It’s foolhardy to launch a legal Hail Mary pass designed to make SEPTA’s high-priced lawyers richer and circumvent the collective bargaining process.”
Brown called on management to stop stalling.
“We need to finish bargaining on the pension fund in particular,” Brown wrote. “We have nearly 5,000 workers in our union, SEPTA employs roughly 1,700 managers, yet they put more money into the management plan than frontline workers get. On top of that last year SEPTA secretly gave each management retiree a $6,000 annual increase in their pension checks. Managers have both a defined benefit pension and a generous match to a 401k plan.”
SEPTA spokeswoman Carla Showell Lee responded to Brown’s statement.
“SEPTA has been at the table willing to negotiate with the TWU all day,” she said. “TWU was due to present a proposal at 1 p.m. Saturday. It was not presented to SEPTA until 5 p.m.”
Lee also claimed what the TWU is asking for in their latest proposal is "not affordable.”
“SEPTA is committed in remaining at the table and getting a contract signed well in advance of the election,” she said.
SEPTA SERVICES THAT ARE STILL RUNNING DURING STRIKE
- Regional Rail
- Norristown High Speed Line
- Suburban Bus, Trolley Routes 101 & 102
- LUCY (Loop through University City), Route 310 (Horsham Breeze), Routes 204, 205 and Cornwells Heights Parking Shuttle
- CCT Connect: Regular Service will operate for registered ADA and Shared Ride customers. There may be some delays due to increased demand and local street traffic.
SEPTA SERVICES THAT ARE NOT RUNNING DURING STRIKE
- City Bus Routes (Including Route 78, Cornwells Heights to Center City Express)
- Market Frankford Line
- Broad Street & Broad Ridge Spur Lines
- Trolley Routes 10, 11, 13, 15, 34, and 36
NON-SEPTA SERVICES FOR STUDENTS AND VISITORS
Temple University student Victor Lourng created a map of bus routes that will run and provide services for students, hotel guests and some workers during the strike.
UPENN'S SEPTA STRIKE CONTINGENCY PLAN
The University of Pennsylvania partnered with Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to provide complimentary transit services to all employees of these institutions and organizations at Penn. CLICK HERE for more information.
TEMPLE UNIVERSITY'S SEPTA STRIKE CONTINGENCY PLAN
Temple University released contingency plans to help members of the university community during the strike. CLICK HERE to learn more.
UBER EXPANDS UBERPOOL COVERAGE
Uber announced they would expand its uberPOOL coverage throughout the greater Philadelphia area during the strike. CLICK HERE to learn more.
Lyft announced prices will remain low for passengers during the strike. CLICK HERE to learn more.
Zipcar announced they would discount its cars in Philadelphia with $5 hourly reservations available on more than 100 zipcars near SEPTA stops for those who are without transportation. CLICK HERE to learn more.
PPA DISCOUNTS, RELAXED ENFORCEMENT