Newsworks reports that SEPTA’s unions are — predictably — opposed to a new state bill that would keep them from striking. The unions, of course, are talking about striking early next month when all of SEPTA’s contracts with its workers have expired.
The legislation is, predictably, opposed by SEPTA’s largest union, which is making the case that if the state annuls the right to strike, the Department of Labor could not sign off on the federal funding SEPTA receives from the Federal Transit Administration.
Transport Workers Union Local 234 argues that the Federal Transit Act prevents changes to their existing bargaining rights.
At this stage, the Department of Labor is declining to weigh in. A spokesman for the Department said that "The Federal Transit Act does not prohibit any state from passing laws relating to transit employees. Whether a state law impacts the worker protections provided for ... is determined on a case by case basis as applications for federal transit grants come to DOL for certification."
Here is the Department of Labor's website concerning the collective bargaining rights of workers at federally funded transit agencies. It's tough to read it in any fashion that permits the altering of TWU's collective bargaining rights — including the right to strike. But there are lawyers involved, so who knows?