Transit union workers on picket lines

    Striking SEPTA workers are manning the picket lines. The transit strike that began on Tuesday has halted Philadelphia’s buses, trolleys and subways. Here’s what the scene was like on Friday at the Fern Rock Transportation Center.

    Striking SEPTA workers are manning the picket lines. The transit strike that began on Tuesday has halted Philadelphia’s buses, trolleys and subways. Here’s what the scene was like on Friday at the Fern Rock Transportation Center.

    Listen:
    [audio: 091106lfpicket.mp3]

    Alexis Cobbs has been operating trains on the Broad Street line for five years. But today she’s spending the day on the picket line with about a half dozen coworkers.

    Cobbs says she makes $50,000 dollars a year plus benefits, and she says she understands riders frustration about the strike.

    Alexis Cobbs
    Alexis Cobbs

    Cobbs: I understand that there are people who don’t have as much as I have. But I also understand that they strive to get what I have. And I should not accept less because other people don’t have what I have, I should make a way for the people who don’t have, to get more. And that’s what this is.

    Dickson: Good morning My name is Larry Dickson. I’m a Yardman at Fern Rock. When I come in at 11 all the trains that got pulled of the line for the morning service I’m responsible for walking through, making sure they’re set for afternoon service.

    Larry Dickson a Yardman at Fern Rock talks with about 15 other striking workers who lean in to keep warm around a fire that’s burning in a barrel.

    Dickson says after nearly 30 years at SEPTA, he’s focused on the same issues as many other workers.

    091106lfpicket_fire

    Dickson: Basically all I care about now is my pension and my health care coverage. When it’s time to say goodbye to SEPTA I want to know that I’m on a nice pension.  I don’t want to get something now and ten years from now the cost of living is so high that I can’t afford a – okay, [truck pulls up] Oh Lord – [Reporter] What just happened? Some of the managers that are like in tune with what’s going on and they have sympathy for us. So they got us some pretzels. Deep down inside a lot of the upper first line managers they’re hoping we get something nice because if we get something nice it means they have to get something better. Yeah, see it’s one of those things – Want a pretzel?

    For now, many who rely on mass transit wait eagerly not for a pretzel, but for the sound of a bus, train, or trolley ready to whisk them away.

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