Back on the beat: SEPTA Police strike over

June 14, 2008 5:12:48 AM PDT
Striking transit police returned to work this morning, ending an hours-long walkout.

Officers for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority were back on the job as of 7 a.m., following an announcement several hours earlier that a tentative deal had been reached.

Details of the agreement were not immediately released, and it must still be ratified by the approximately 200 members of the transit police union.

"SEPTA strongly believes this is a fair and equitable agreement that should be approved by the union membership," the agency said in statement.

Transit police, who mostly patrol the Broad Street Subway and the Market-Frankford Line, had been on strike since about 3:15 p.m. Friday. They were seeking the same pay as officers in the Philadelphia Police Department; city police officers start at about $39,000 a year, compared with $30,752 for a transit officer.

The tentative deal was struck around midnight after more than four hours of bargaining inside Mayor Michael Nutter's office in City Hall.

Both SEPTA and the transit police union praised the help of the mayor, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-Pa., City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. and state Rep. Tony Payton Jr., D-Philadelphia, in settling the strike.

Fraternal Order of Transit Police President Richard Neal also thanked SEPTA managers.

"We weathered this process as adversaries and ended as partners," Neal said in a statement.

The transit officers' last contract expired Sept. 30, 2005, and was extended for one year. The union membership had since rejected three tentative agreements. SEPTA turned down a union request for binding arbitration last week.