The Philadelphia Inquirer

SEPTA's Largest Union Won't Strike This Week, Will Continue Contract Talks

About 900,000 riders could be looking for a ride should SEPTA's biggest union representing bus, trolley and subway operators goes on strike.

The leader of the largest union representing Philadelphia transit workers said Monday that there won't be a strike in the immediate future.

But, Transport Workers Union Local 234 president Willie Brown said that he won't make any promises after this week.

Brown leads TWU Local 234, which represents about 4,700 bus, trolley and subway operators.

Their contract with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority expired in March.

Brown said the biggest holdup in bargaining involves pension reform. He says there's a big disparity between what SEPTA managers receive and what rank-and-file workers get.

SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri William said that nationwide pension plans "are disappearing and being replaced by defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) plans."

"Nevertheless, SEPTA continues to provide reasonable wage, pension and health care benefits for all employees."

Brown said that he plans to sit down with SEPTA negotiators throughout the week. If those negotiations go nowhere, Brown said his union would give riders a day's notice before walking off the job.

"SEPTA is pleased that TWU 234 has agreed to provide our riders 24 hours notice if they decide to strike," said Williams. "We however hope we can continue bargaining."

The union's last strike in 2009 lasted six days.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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