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Two Steps Back: SEPTA Could Be Headed for Another Strike

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Remember all those good times we had celebrating the news that SEPTA would extend their overnight weekend subway service indefinitely? Well, it's not all roses in SEPTAland as union leaders are kicking around that strike word yet again. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, it's only a matter a time. Citing the need for pension reform and health care contributions, Transport Workers Union local 234 (TWU 234) Union Chief Willie Brown said, "With us, it's not a question of if we strike it's a question of when we strike [...] That's how far apart we are." But that's not all, SEPTA is dealing with possible work stoppages on two fronts as the Regional Rail workers, who operate under a separate union, have been working without a contract for five years. Needless to say, they ain't happy.

The good news is that officials from the TWU 234 and SEPTA will have face-to-face meetings this week — their first such get-together since June. TWU 234 is comprised of more than 5,000 workers. Jerri Williams, SEPTA Director of Media Relations, mentioned she was hopeful they could meet some sort of common ground.

There were similar worries about a strike from TWU 234 earlier this year, with the Regional Rail workers actually forcing a one-day shutdown in June — the first in 31 years. That lead to a Presidential intervention in the form of a three person Presidential Emergency Board, which delayed the strike for 120 day. The Philadelphia Business Journal notes that another "cooling off period" could be on the way to prevent another strike. All of this is happening amid some record ridership numbers for Regional Rail.

Much like earlier this year, it's a waiting game for passengers of SEPTA. It looks like yet another daily game 'Will they or won't they' is in the cards for the fall and winter. Can they have productive meetings to keep the SEPTA's future on the positive track?
· SEPTA union leader: 'Not a question of if we strike,' but when [Philadelphia Business Journal]