SEPTA workers reach contract agreement days before deadline

Oct 29, 2021, 4:39 AM | Updated: 6:26 am

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Members of Philadelphia’s largest transit workers union reached a tentative contract agreement early Friday, averting a possible strike that threatened to bring elevated trains, buses and trolleys to a halt and leave thousands of children and educators without a way to get to school next week.

The current contract between the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and the 5,000-member Transport Workers Union Local 234 was set to expire at 12:01 a.m. Monday. The tentative agreement announced by the union includes a two-year contract with a pay increase, a pandemic payment and parental leave for workers.

“Our members are essential workers who move Philadelphia and who have risked their lives putting their own families at risk during this pandemic,” Willie Brown, Local 234 president, said in a written statement praising Friday’s agreement.

Members are scheduled to vote to ratify the contract next Friday.

The union had voted Sunday to authorize a worker walkout if an agreement couldn’t be reached. The union represents bus, trolley and elevated train operators as well as mechanics and other staff.

Union leadership had asked for a four-year contract with annual wage increases and a pandemic payment to compensate SEPTA workers that had served on the front lines of the pandemic, keeping public transportation moving for other essential workers. Nearly 800 members contracted COVID-19 and 11 TWU members died from COVID-19 or related complications, union leaders said.

Union members had noted that families of New York’s essential transit workers who died from COVID-19 received $500,000 in survivor benefit payouts, unlike families of transit workers in Philadelphia, who got no payout.

The tentative contract includes a 3% wage increase each year, and a pandemic hazard payment of $1 per each hour worked between March 15, 2020 and March 15, 2021 of up to $2,200 per worker.

“We are pleased to reach an agreement with union leadership on a contract that is fair to our employees and financially responsible for SEPTA,” SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr. said in an emailed statement. “I look forward to the SEPTA Board’s vote on the contract at its next meeting.”

SEPTA officials had asked for a two-year contract, or that pay increases in a four-year contract be contingent on the transit authority’s ability to pay them. Authority leaders have said that it is losing nearly $1 million a day while ridership rebounds from the lockdowns and the pandemic.

School District of Philadelphia officials announced Thursday that they would not move students and educators to virtual learning next week under the threat of a strike. The district had raised the possibility after the union’s strike authorization vote.

Close to half of the district’s more than 120,000 public school students and thousands of teachers rely on public transportation to get to school, and many were left wondering what Monday might bring.

City officials had also urged SEPTA and union officials to reach an agreement before Tuesday’s general election to avoid any effect a strike might have on in-person voting.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Pr...
Associated Press

WHO panel says Monkeypox is not a global emergency ‘at this stage’

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization said the escalating monkeypox outbreak in more than 50 countries should be closely monitored but does not warrant being declared a global health emergency. In a statement Saturday, a WHO emergency committee said many aspects of the outbreak were “unusual” and acknowledged that monkeypox — which is endemic […]
19 hours ago
Police in riot gear surround the Arizona Capitol after protesters reached the front of the Arizona ...
Associated Press

Dueling narratives of Arizona protests ended with tear gas

PHOENIX (AP) — Protests outside the Arizona Capitol over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade that ended with a volley of tear gas were variously described Saturday as either peaceful or driven by anarchists intent on destruction. Republican Senate President Karen Fann issued a news release describing it as a thwarted […]
19 hours ago
Emergency personnel look over the sight of a  helicopter that crashed in Blair, W.Va., on Thursday,...
Associated Press

West Virginia helicopter crash victims identified

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Medical examiners in West Virginia have released the names of six people killed in the crash of a Vietnam-era helicopter that gave tour rides. The aircraft crashed Wednesday during its last planned flight at an annual reunion for helicopter enthusiasts in Logan County. All six people aboard were killed. The state’s […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Army private’s plea shelved internet fantasy chat defense

NEW YORK (AP) — An Army private charged with plotting to murder members of his unit overseas with help from a secretive violent anarchist group was planning a defense calling it all an internet fantasy before pleading guilty just before trial, court records show. Plans for the defense of Ethan Phelan Melzer was revealed in […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Jury awards $21M to family of pregnant teen shot by police

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A federal jury awarded $21 million to the family of a pregnant teen who was shot and killed by undercover police officers in Northern California five years ago, attorneys said. Elena Mondragon was a passenger in a BMW pulling out of a Hayward apartment complex when an unmarked van filled […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

LAPD officer who died was beaten in training, mother claims

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles police officer who died of neck injuries suffered during training had been beaten by fellow officers in an exercise meant to “simulate a mob,” according to a wrongful-death claim filed against the city by his mother. Houston Tipping, 32, was hurt May 26 at the police academy and […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
Canvas Annuity

The secret to guaranteed retirement income

Annuities aren’t really a secret, but they are so misunderstood that they might as well be. Once you understand what an annuity is and how it can benefit you, you could decide this “secret” is the perfect supplement to your retirement plan.
SEPTA workers reach contract agreement days before deadline