SEPTA contract nearing expiration

March 10, 2009 4:02:33 AM PDT
Septa's contract with its transit division, buses, trolleys and subways, expires this weekend. Mayor Michael Nutter says he hopes Septa workers don't go out on strike.

Septa continued rolling along with business as usual Monday. On the subway and on the busy streets but will service continue in the weeks ahead? The labor contract with the transport worker's union runs out at 12:01 Sunday morning and it is hard to tell how close or far apart the sides are on issues including wages, pensions, healthcare and subcontracting.

"On Friday we made a comprehensive offer to the union they've taken that under advisement and we're hoping and expecting a comprehensive response from them tomorrow," said Richard Maloney, Vice President of Septa.

"With the economy the riding public are depending on us now we understand one thing if we're going to strike people are going to lose their jobs and we don't want that on our conscience in this economy so 'no' we don't have any intentions of going on strike if we don't have to," said Willie Brown, President TWU Local 234.

For those people who depend on Sept to get around town, especially senior citizens, the thought of a strike by some 47-hundred city division workers is a nightmare.

"It's my only means of transportation," said Matt Kirkland of Southwest Philadelphia.

Unlike a lot of public agencies Septa is not on its heels financially.

"We are in fairly stable financial condition right now but we have to remain prudent and we are going to," Maloney said.

"I think any strike whether in the city or in the suburbs will have a negative economic impact and that's about the last thing we need," said Mayor Michael Nutter.

The last transit strike was in 2005, it lasted 7 days that strike was preceded by a 40-day epic in 1998. City riders do not want any disruption this year.

"I wouldn't be able to get to work everyday and I would have to park in the city and that's real expensive and it will take me awhile to get to work," said Erin Nester of Manayunk.

Negotiations are set to resume Tuesday, the keen sense is, there is no stomach for a strike right now but at times things have been know to suddenly deteriorate.

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