SEPTA strikes: Mayor blasts union, Regional Rail still operating

The SEPTA strike that was called early this morning at 3 a.m. was “most disappointing,” Mayor Michael Nutter told Fox 29.

About 5,100 train and trolley operators, bus drivers and mechanics walked off the job, the Inquirer reports, after their bargaining team rejected the last offers from the transit agency.

Regional rail lines in the Northeast and throughout the region are currently still operating, though crowding and delays have been reported due to increased volume. Fears remained around the effect the strike would have on commuters and Election Day, particularly after such short notice of the strike.

Below see video of Nutter’s appearance and more on the strike.

SEPTA’s largest union Local 234 was last known to be seeking an 18 percent pay raise over five years, according to the Inquirer, and said SEPTA was offering nine percent during those five years with no increase in the new contract’s first year.

“The offer was an increases in salaries and pensions [but the union said no],” said Nutter. “This is at a time when other people are losing their jobs, losing their pensions, going on furlough and taking other cuts.”

The strike was averted Friday — after Gov. Ed Rendell and Nutter joined the discussion — to avoid a weekend embarrassment surrounding national attention for World Series games and a heated Eagles-Giants matchup. Today’s strike was called only after the Phillies beat the Yankees in a tense game five.

SEPTA employees say they’ve been without a contract since March — though they’ve been paid — and deserve credit for not striking this weekend. Northeast residents vented about their trips to Center City on Philadelphia Speaks, which you can read here.

Below watch Nutter’s appearance on Fox 29 today.

According to the Inquirer: “SEPTA’s unionized bus drivers, subway and trolley operators earn from $14.54 to $24.24 an hour, reaching the top rate after four years. Mechanics earn $14.40 to $27.59 an hour. The last strike lasted seven days in 2005.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.