Could the Philadelphia Transit Strike Determine Who Becomes the Next President?

Hundreds of thousand of bus, trolley and subway riders (and potential voters) in Philadelphia have been left to find alternative means of transportation since Nov. 1 due to a strike by the local Transport Workers Union who work for SEPTA.

November 3, 2016, 2:00 PM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


SEPTA Station

f11photo / Shutterstock

On November 1, after months of negotiations between the management of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and the Transport Workers Union Local 234, "more than 4,700 SEPTA workers, including bus, train and trolley operators" went on strike, reports Martine Powers in the "Dr. Gridlock column" for The Washington Post.  "SEPTA buses, trolleys and subways provide about 900,000 rides a day."

In addition to health care, pension and wages, TWU lists "non-economic" issues [PDF] such as "operator and public safety" that need to be addressed.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the strike caused major paralysis during the Tuesday morning commute, with roads across the city backed up due to people choosing to use their cars to get to work.

In addition, Regional Rail service, whose workers are not on strike, was at standing room only. No fares were collected, one passenger told the Inquirer reporter.

If strike is not settled by Nov. 8

"If the strike continues through next week, it could have a significant impact on the election: Thousands of Philadelphia residents may have no means to reach their polling place," adds Powers.

And Pennsylvania is a battleground state in the presidential election, which could add to the urgency of finding a solution to the transit shutdown before next week.

Powers writes that "the agency will pursue legal action to force the union to lift the strike for Election Day."

“If we foresee an agreement will not come to pass, SEPTA intends to seek to enjoin the strike for November 8th to ensure that the strike does not prevent any voters from getting to the polls and exercising their right to vote,” the agency said in its statement.

Two years ago, Regional Rail workers went on strike. President Obama intervened at the request of then-Governor Tom Corbett to force members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers back to work for 240 days and enter mediation talks with SEPTA management.

Not affected by the strike is SEPTA regional rail service, the Norristown High Speed Line and some bus and trolley routes. See SEPTA Service Interruption Information.

For the latest information, see SEPTA Strike Live Updates in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 in The Washington Post

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