SEPTA police strike won’t disrupt commuters, official says

About 30 SEPTA police officers picket outside SEPTA headquarters at 1234 Market Street. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

About 30 SEPTA police officers picket outside SEPTA headquarters at 1234 Market Street. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Updated 6:36 p.m.

Nearly 200 SEPTA police officers went on strike Wednesday afternoon.

Transit service should not be affected.

“There is no impact on riders,” SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said. “It’s not like a strike involving the city transit division or regional rail, where we’d have to shut services down or disrupt services. We don’t expect that there will be any service disruption.”

The transit agency and the Fraternal Order of Transit Police Lodge 109 have been at the bargaining table for months, trying to hash out a new five-year agreement. Negotiations broke down around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The two sides got up from the table after debating for several hours, said SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch, who called the strike “disappointing” and “frustrating.”

“We do feel like there’s been progress made with these talks, and we urge them to return to negotiating table,” said Busch.

Standing with fellow officers in the bitter cold outside SEPTA’s Center City headquarters, union officials Troy Parham said the two sides were close to an agreement Wednesday until disagreements arose over new work rules.

He said they hope to continue discussions soon.

“We’re ready to talk whenever they’re ready to talk,” Parham said. “We want to resolve this quick. We want the public to be safe, we want to get back to work. We don’t want to be out here.”

Nearly 50 nonunion supervisors remain on the job, Busch said. Philadelphia police officers, as well as cops from some suburban police departments, will help with coverage.

The 178 patrol officers have been working without a contract since March 2018.

SEPTA transit police last went on strike for a week in 2012. Busch said the strike didn’t disrupt service.

Union officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Nichole Currie contributed reporting.

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