The union that represents more than 5,700 SEPTA bus drivers, subway and trolley operators voted unanimously Sunday morning to authorize a strike.
Members of Transport Workers Union Local 234 (TWU 234) met 11 a.m. at the Sheet Metal Workers Union Hall at 1311 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard in Philadelphia to discuss negotiations with SEPTA and vote on whether or not to authorize a strike. In less than an hour, the workers voted to authorize a strike.
The union’s current contract with SEPTA expires at midnight on Oct. 31. That's when, if they do strike, workers would walk off the job. Negotiations with SEPTA began earlier in the year.
Outstanding issues for the union include the need for pension reform, maintaining affordable quality health care and addressing safety and fatigue issues for SEPTA drivers.
“We’ll get direction from our members on Sunday and proceed from there,” said TWU Local 234 President Willie Brown. “We’re not looking for a day-by-day extension and we’re not interested in working without a contract. We want an agreement that is fair to our members that addresses pension plan inequities between managers and frontline workers, while guaranteeing quality service to our passengers.”
If a strike is authorized, it would not start until Nov. 1 and would shut down SEPTA's bus, subway and trolley services in Philadelphia. SEPTA's Regional Rail service and service in areas outside of Philadelphia would not be affected.
If a deal is not reached, the strike could last through Election Day.
“Oh God, I don’t really know what to say about that one,” said Margaret Foote, a SEPTA rider. “How would people get out and vote?”
NBC10 reached out to SEPTA for comment.
“Taking a strike vote in advance of contract expiration is not out of the ordinary,” a spokesperson for SEPTA wrote. “We remain hopeful as we work to bargain an agreement in the best interest of our employees, riders and the public.”