Union pres. takes blame for 3 a.m. strike call

November 6, 2009 3:30:50 AM PST
The president of SEPTA's largest union met with Governor Ed Rendell behind closed doors on Thursday afternoon, but so far there is no word on when the union's strike will end.

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Congressman Bob Brady and Governor Ed Rendell met late Thursday night with the Union President to continue talks. Both Brady and Rendell are talking with both parties, the union and SEPTA, to get the two to broker a deal.

Transport Workers Union Local 234 met with Gov. Ed Rendell earlier on Thursday to discuss contract negotiations, union spokesman Jamie Horwitz said. No updates on negotiations would be given until Friday morning, he said.

Also on Thursday, Union President Willie Brown met with city council members to brief them on his version of the events leading up to the strike.

"They referred to this strike as "Mayor Nutter's strike," said Councilman Frank Rizzo. "Apparently he did something that offended them."

When he emerged from the meeting, Brown told reporters his emotional response to Mayor Nutter's public statements triggered the strike at 3:00 a.m. Tuesday, in what many commuters consider an ambush.

"Do I regret it? The strike? No, I didn't say that," said Brown. "I said 'Don't blame my members for the time, and I take responsibility for that."

Brown continued: "I regret calling the time I did, but I don't regret the strike."

Brown has had some harsh words for Mayor Nutter since the strike began, even calling him "Little Caesar." Brown and Nutter passed each other in City Hall on Thursday, but barely acknowledged each other.

"Both parties should be at the table right now," Nutter said. "This has nothing to do with personalities. It has to do with the inconvenience to the riding public, and that should be the focus, and the only focus, in this matter."

The strike has halted bus, subway and trolley service in the city.

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