Oct 25, 2021 - News

SEPTA workers union authorizes strike

A commuter boards a SEPTA bus in Philadelphia over the summer.

A commuter boards a SEPTA bus in Philadelphia on July 30. Photo: Hannah Beier/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The union representing SEPTA employees says workers are ready to strike if contract negotiations fail.

Driving the news: Members of Transport Workers Union Local 234 (TWU) voted to authorize a strike on Sunday, handing its president Willie Brown a new bargaining chip against SEPTA as contract talks enter the final week.

Why it matters: While SEPTA ridership is down due to the pandemic, the transportation agency remains vital for workers and students throughout the city.

State of play: SEPTA and the union are expected to continue negotiating Monday on the contract that's set to expire Nov. 1 — a day before the general election.

  • SEPTA, which has proposed a pair of contracts thus far, is expected to release a service plan for riders in the event that a strike is called early this week.
  • Approximately 1,000 union members were present during the closed door meeting on Sunday at the Sheet Metal Workers Union Hall in South Philadelphia, a TWU spokesman told Axios.

Of note: Roughly 5,100 bus, trolley and subway workers make up the union.

  • TWU has gone on strike around a dozen times over the last 50 years, the most recent of which was in 2016.

What they're saying: SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch said in a released statement that the transit agency and union workers have been "engaging in a productive dialogue at the bargaining table."

  • Busch added that SEPTA was "hopeful that an agreement can be reached without any service disruptions for riders."

Stumbling blocks to the negotiations continue to be the union's demands for higher wages, parental leave, death compensation and benefits for workers' families, as well as issues around beefing up security on SEPTA services, a TWU spokesman told Axios.

  • Brown was not immediately available for comment on Sunday.

Are you a SEPTA rider making contingency plans in case a strike is called? Hit reply and let us know how you plan to get around the city.


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