Strike forces Philly commuter to find new ride

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Philadelphia Transit Workers Go On Strike Over Contracts


By GEOFF MULVIHILL

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Workers, employers and travelers in the Philadelphia area have been forced to make contingency plans as a commuter rail strike adds to the region's summer transportation woes.

Four hundred workers at the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's regional rail system went on strike Saturday morning, shutting down 13 train lines that carry commuters to the suburbs and Philadelphia International Airport.

The strike began after negotiations between the transit agency and two unions failed to reach a new contract deal Friday. No further talks were scheduled.

Subways, trolleys and buses operated by SEPTA will continue to run.

Strike forces Philly commuter to find new ride
PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 31: SEPTA passenger Jazz, who declined to give her last name, holds up her useless TransPass as members of Transport Workers Union Local 234 and United Transportation Union Local 1594 picket during a strike at SEPTA's (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) Frankford Transportation Center October 31, 2005 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Much of the Philadelphia region's mass transit system is shut down leaving some 400,000 subway, bus, and trolley riders without transportation. One of the major stumbling blocks in negotiations is SEPTA wants unionized workers to pay for a portion of their healthcare benefits. No new negotiation sessions are scheduled. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 31: Buses sit idle at SEPTA's (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) Frankford Transportation Center as members of Transport Workers Union Local 234 and United Transportation Union Local 1594 picket during a strike October 31, 2005 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Much of the Philadelphia region's mass transit system is shut down leaving some 400,000 subway, bus, and trolley riders without transportation. One of the major stumbling blocks in negotiations is SEPTA wants unionized workers to pay for a portion of their healthcare benefits. No new negotiation sessions are scheduled. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 29: SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority) trains at Frankford terminal remain idle as Hurricane Sandy approaches October 29, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter ordered that all city offices be closed Monday and Tuesday due to potential damage from Hurricane Sandy. Public transit will remain shut down as well.(Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 31: Members of Transport Workers Union Local 234 and United Transportation Union Local 1594 picket during a strike at SEPTA's (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) Frankford Transportation Center October 31, 2005 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Much of the Philadelphia region's mass transit system is shut down leaving some 400,000 subway, bus, and trolley riders without transportation. One of the major stumbling blocks in negotiations is SEPTA wants unionized workers to pay for a portion of their healthcare benefits. No new negotiation sessions are scheduled. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 31: Buses sit idle at SEPTA's (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) Frankford Transportation Center as members of Transport Workers Union Local 234 and United Transportation Union Local 1594 picket during a strike October 31, 2005 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Much of the Philadelphia region's mass transit system is shut down leaving some 400,000 subway, bus, and trolley riders without transportation. One of the major stumbling blocks in negotiations is SEPTA wants unionized workers to pay for a portion of their healthcare benefits. No new negotiation sessions are scheduled. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
A mural is seen in a parking lot in Philadelphia 30 April , 2013. Philadelphia counts some 3,800 murals across the city, from historic downtown to poor neighborhoods in the suburbs. The trend started with the 'Mural Arts Program' launched in 1984 in an effort to combat graffiti. The program was intended to channel the energy of young artists and involve them in creating oversized paintings. Some thirty years later, artists from all walks of life compete to be part of a group of about 200 that will participate in the annual program. AFP PHOTO Guillaume MEYER (Photo credit should read Guillaume Meyer/AFP/Getty Images)
A mural towers over an empty parking lot in Philadelphia 30 April , 2013. Philadelphia counts some 3,800 murals across the city, from historic downtown to poor neighborhoods in the suburbs. The trend started with the 'Mural Arts Program' launched in 1984 in an effort to combat graffiti. The program was intended to channel the energy of young artists and involve them in creating oversized paintings. Some thirty years later, artists from all walks of life compete to be part of a group of about 200 that will participate in the annual program. AFP PHOTO Guillaume MEYER (Photo credit should read Guillaume Meyer/AFP/Getty Images)
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Gov. Tom Corbett is counting on negotiators to reach an agreement and keep the trains running, spokesman Jay Pagni said. President Obama could also appoint a Presidential Emergency Board to intervene in the negotiations and prevent a strike for up to 240 days.

The strike will affect hospital, airport and retail workers, although the full effect would not be felt until Monday's rush hour.

The last regional rail strike, in 1983, lasted more than three months.

"I hope it doesn't go that far. I don't anticipate that it would, but I don't know how long it will take us to try to find a common ground - if there is any," said Stephen Bruno, vice president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

SEPTA said that its offer to keep a previously announced wage increase in effect during an extended two-week cooling off period was rejected by the unions. Bruno noted that the union has been working without a contract for four years and an extension "without any movement toward closure is really pointless."

Bruno said striking workers are seeking raises of at least 14.5 percent over five years - or about 3 percentage points more than SEPTA has offered.

The labor conflict came to a head this week after SEPTA announced it would impose a deal beginning Sunday. Terms include raising electrical workers' pay immediately by an average of about $3 per hour; the top wage rate for locomotive engineers would rise by $2.64 per hour.

SEPTA, meanwhile, is planning to have extra subway cars and trolleys in service.

The strike adds to commuting headaches in the region, where major construction projects are making it more difficult than usual to get around.

The lines carrying PATCO commuter trains between Philadelphia and southern New Jersey are being replaced over the Ben Franklin Bridge, affecting not only the train schedule but also car traffic on the busy bridge.

Emergency work on a bridge on Interstate 495 in Delaware is expected to keep a stretch of that thoroughfare closed at least through the summer, and is forcing additional traffic onto I-95. Additionally, work is scheduled to begin next week on I-95 just north of downtown Philadelphia.



PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Workers, employers and travelers in the Philadelphia area have been forced to make contingency plans as a commuter rail strike adds to the region's summer transportation woes.

Four hundred workers at the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's regional rail system went on strike Saturday morning, shutting down 13 train lines that carry commuters to the suburbs and Philadelphia International Airport.

The strike began after negotiations between the transit agency and two unions failed to reach a new contract deal Friday. No further talks were scheduled.

Subways, trolleys and buses operated by SEPTA will continue to run.

Gov. Tom Corbett is counting on negotiators to reach an agreement and keep the trains running, spokesman Jay Pagni said. President Obama could also appoint a Presidential Emergency Board to intervene in the negotiations and prevent a strike for up to 240 days.

The strike will affect hospital, airport and retail workers, although the full effect would not be felt until Monday's rush hour.

The last regional rail strike, in 1983, lasted more than three months.

"I hope it doesn't go that far. I don't anticipate that it would, but I don't know how long it will take us to try to find a common ground - if there is any," said Stephen Bruno, vice president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

SEPTA said that its offer to keep a previously announced wage increase in effect during an extended two-week cooling off period was rejected by the unions. Bruno noted that the union has been working without a contract for four years and an extension "without any movement toward closure is really pointless."

Bruno said striking workers are seeking raises of at least 14.5 percent over five years - or about 3 percentage points more than SEPTA has offered.

The labor conflict came to a head this week after SEPTA announced it would impose a deal beginning Sunday. Terms include raising electrical workers' pay immediately by an average of about $3 per hour; the top wage rate for locomotive engineers would rise by $2.64 per hour.

SEPTA, meanwhile, is planning to have extra subway cars and trolleys in service.

The strike adds to commuting headaches in the region, where major construction projects are making it more difficult than usual to get around.

The lines carrying PATCO commuter trains between Philadelphia and southern New Jersey are being replaced over the Ben Franklin Bridge, affecting not only the train schedule but also car traffic on the busy bridge.

Emergency work on a bridge on Interstate 495 in Delaware is expected to keep a stretch of that thoroughfare closed at least through the summer, and is forcing additional traffic onto I-95. Additionally, work is scheduled to begin next week on I-95 just north of downtown Philadelphia.

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