Tentative agreeement made in SEPTA strike

PHILADELPHIA - November 6, 2009

That offer was announced by TWU Local 234 President Willie Brown. He emerged from a day in seclusion to announce that his members would go back to work 'immediately' if SEPTA agreed.

The offer comes with a stipulation: SEPTA must agree to a complete forensic examination of the agency's finances.

"We have two issues: Pension and wages. If they're willing to go into binding arbitration, we're willing to go into binding arbitration also. If they agree to that, we will go back to work tonight," Brown said.

A SEPTA spokesperson said the agency is reviewing the offer, and will respond later Friday evening.

Early indications indicate SEPTA is not interested in letting a third party arbitrator dictate terms for pay and pensions.

With that, it was back to shuttle diplomacy. Congressman Bob Brady met late Friday with the union to try to revive talk in an earlier offer brokered by Governor Rendell

It was a framework that had been rejected by the TWU earlier in the day.

Mayor mulls injunction

The comes just hours after Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said the city was looking at a possible court injunction to force the striking members of TWU Local 234 back to work. Nutter even said they may use the public health emergency created by the swine flu outbreak as a possible avenue.

"All of our public health areas and public saftey areas have been monitoring the impact of the strike," Nutter said.

Nutter has been excluded from the negotiations because of a spat between himself and Brown.

Early in the morning, it appeared there was a deal after a meeting between the union and Gov. Ed Rendell, but the union later rejected it.

Rendell said that offer included raises of of 11.5% over five years, but would front load the contract with the bulk of the raise.

No more paychecks

Striking SEPTA employees received their last paychecks on Friday.

There is no strike pay, so they will have no more money coming in from SEPTA until the strike is over. The Union workers do not have strike pay.

TWU Local 234 represents about 5,000 SEPTA bus drivers, subway and trolley operators and mechanics.

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