Septa transit police strike

June 13, 2008 3:22:20 PM PDT
Since 2005, Septa and its Transit Police Union have been haggling over wages and benefits. Today, that haggling came to an end when the union declared that the negotiations had ended and all 198 transit officers were on strike. Mayor Michael Nutter moved swiftly to assure the public, that Philadelphia police officers and a private security firm would fill the gap.

"The Septa system is safe to ride, with Philadelphia Police officers and Septa transit police supervisors providing security," Nutter declared.

Late this afternoon, Septa Police began to picket at 15th & Market, declaring that the transit agency has been unfair to them

According to the labor union, officers' wages and benefits have been frozen at 2005 levels as they worked for 30 months to negotiate a new contract.

Late today, the union said that after a 24 hour extension of a strike deadline, talks between Septa and the union have ended and the parties remain at an impasse.

As of 3:15 this afternoon, officers declared a strike. The transit police, the fourth largest police agency in the state, wants equal pay and benefits with their peers on the Philadelphia Police department.

Presently the union says a rookie officer on transit police starts at $31,000 a year, that's $7000 less than a Philadelphia officer. Septa says it came to 3 tentative agreements with the union leadership and all three were rejected.

Septa general manager Joe Casey says the agency made good faith offers that the union rejected. He says the agency stands ready to talk at any time. "Still, the union opted to walk."

Meantime, 450 thousand people who commute on Septa daily were caught in the middle.

Tonight, Septa transit officers are on the picket line at 15th & Market, one of the busiest and most visible of all Septa transit stops. While they're on strike, Philadelphia Police officers, according to Mayor Nutter, will be working a lot of overtime.