Monday, March 07, 2005

SEPTA Workers Authorize Strike

A year ago, the union representing SEPTA workers negotiated a 1-year extension on their current contract. With that extension about to expire, a newly elected leadership is battling with SEPTA management to keep healthcare costs down and maintain good wages for SEPTA workers.
The key roadblock has been whether SEPTA would succeed in forcing veteran union workers to contribute weekly for the first time for health care and retiree prescriptions. According to the union, SEPTA has also proposed taking away maternity leave and family medical leave.
"The costs of health care at SEPTA and across the United States are rising," SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney said. "Everything's on the table when we sit down to negotiate a contract - wages, benefits and work rules."

The tough negotiations come right after a $412 million bailout by Gov. Rendell to stabilize transit agencies in the state until 2007.

The governor has warned the union that a city transit strike on the heels of SEPTA's financial crisis and the state bailout could anger lawmakers who he hopes will provide permanent funding for SEPTA.
In my mind, these negotiations are just like those undertaken by AFSCME DC 33 and 47, as well as the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. Negotiations between public employee (government workers) unions and the City of Philadelphia are never about improving the situation of workers. They are always focused on cutbacks, because local and state officials are unwilling to provide decent funding for public services.

I also want to draw attention to this part of the article:
Less than a mile away on Columbus Avenue, Jamie Harris, 29, had just gotten off the Frankford El.

He said he understands not wanting to pay more for health care or lose maternity leave. He and his wife are expecting a baby in May.

But Harris, who makes $9 an hour doing inventory for Philadelphia-area companies, said the strike would hurt many Philadelphians.

"It's going to be tough for a lot of people," he said. "We have to go to work. Every day we're taking SEPTA."
It would be nice, just for once, to see a news article covering a labor dispute that doesn't end with how striking workers will screw over the working people.


At 12:47 PM, Blogger DanielUA said...

This screams for preemptive intervention by a neutral party. We cannot have SEPTA workers going on strike immediately after Rendell essentially kills his next legislative year by diverting road funding to SEPTA and others. On the other hand, SEPTA management cannot use this as some perfect opportunity to stick it to its workers.

This is something where for the good of all involved, we really, really, really need an agreement.

At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't panic yet, labor negotiations always start with extreme positions on both sides. There's no way SEPTA would take away maternity and family leave, especially in view of the federal FMLA.

The TWU's timing and aggressiveness, shows their political tin ear, though.
The comment that TWU will further alienate Harrisburg is spot on.


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