Obama Intervenes On Philly Rail Strike

President Obama signs executive order to end SEPTA transit strike, establishes emergency labor mediation board in response to Governor Corbett's request.

2 minute read

June 16, 2014, 10:00 AM PDT

By Michael Newton

A SEPTA R5 commuter train heading for Doylestown, Pennsylvania from Lansdale station.

jpmueller99//flickr / SEPTA Rail Train

"Striking SEPTA railroad workers had erected pickets early Saturday, surprising travelers who found themselves without train service," writes Jonathan Lai, for The Inquirer, unfolding the events over the weekend in Philadelphia with regard to SEPTA regional transit, which services 126,000 trips on a typical weekday.

"Gov. Corbett [requested] a presidential emergency board to mediate the labor dispute and compel the striking rail engineers and electrical workers to return to work for 240 days." The official response makes the case for the tens of thousands of daily transit riders: "It is imperative that parties continue to work toward an agreement for the benefit of the tens of thousands of people who use SEPTA rail every day...I call on both parties to work together, find common ground and place the riders at the forefront of mind in their discussions.” reads Governor Tom Corbett’s statement.

Lai summarizes the union's position: "the railroad workers have two major objections to the SEPTA offer: They want the raises to be retroactive to the expiration of their last contracts, and they want an additional 3 percent raise, which they say represents the value of a pension benefit increase."

"Neither side in the labor dispute was overjoyed by what they saw as a temporary solution to a years-long battle. Management and labor both said they thought another strike is likely in February, when the 240-day period expires."

"'That's the worst possible time for a strike,’ Union Boss Stephen Bruno said, 'with everybody in school and 72 inches of snow on the ground.'" In November, President Obama appointed an emergency board to help resolve a dispute between the Long Island Rail Road and unions, where sides yet to reach agreement.

Sunday, June 15, 2014 in The Philadelphia Inquirer

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