SEPTA May Want to Provoke Strike Now

Moves to impose terms on regional rail workers.

SEPTA may be trying to provoke a strike by regional rail workers now, the Inquirer reports, in an attempt to avoid a work stoppage in colder (and higher-ridership) months.

That’s the apparent logic behind the agency’s Monday moves to impose its terms on those workers, which “could prompt a strike that would halt all commuter rail service at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.”

Here are the terms that would be imposed:

The 210 electrical workers, represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 744, have been without a new contract since 2009, and the 220 engineers, represented by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, have been without a new contract since 2010.

The electrical workers will get a raise of 11.5 percent Sunday, and the engineers will get a 5 percent raise Sunday and an additional 3.5 percent raise on July 6, SEPTA said in its letter.

Wages for electrical workers would increase by approximately $3 to $29.50 an hour, on average. Electrical workers on average earn $55,120 a year.

The top wage rate for engineers would increase by $2.64 per hour, to about $32.50 an hour. Engineers, who typically work six-day weeks with extensive overtime, now earn an average of $95,290 a year, SEPTA said.

The snag? The electricians believe they should receive raises retroactive to the end of the last contract — around $10,600 each — plus an equivalent pension boost. SEPTA, meanwhile, says it doesn’t pay retroactive raises.

And where’s the Transit Workers Union — which last struck in 2009, and which represents 5,000 SEPTA workers still working without contract? Still not striking. TWU hasn’t met SEPTA since April 6th, but leaders say they won’t join a regional rail strike this weekend, if it occurs.

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  • buzzbye

    NO retro active These greedy self absorbed clowns make enough on o t. NO wonder the agency says enough is enough. The union should be thankful they are getting a raise while most people in the real working world are getting laid off or taking pay cuts to keep the jobs they have! Suck it up ladies and gents and do the right thing for once in your life

    • MrsWicker

      you need to read. no raise in 5 years. Husband has to work ot just so we can make ends meet. in the middle of the night (while you are sleeping) in the elements and in hazard locations with moving trains and high voltage surrounding him. Septa also wants to raise health and welfare so there really isn’t any raise.

      • buzzbye

        Call 1 88 wha whaa! maybe you should try to live within your means stupid! I am so dam sick and tired of you union crybabies always complaining ! If he didn’t want the hazards he should have taken a job somewhere else! 52 k a year with o t ? are you kidding me? most people don’t even make that in 18 months! So shut your pathetic whining mouth and suck it up cupcake! In case you have not noticed the cost of health care is rising a average of 10 pct a year. WeLcome to the big time BIOTCHES!

        • Michele

          what makes me sick is they make more than doctors and i doubt half of them even finished high school! these brats needs to get off their moral high horses. they are not God people will find their way around just like we did in the past. and everytime they do go on strike and come back they are 10xs worse to work with.

      • Jae

        Say that again to a SINGLE MOM who is up early every morning going to work every day, depending on a train that is 20 mins maybe 30 minutes late??? Say it to that same mom who makes anywhere Between 20 – 30 grand less then these “engineers”. And struggle to kake ends meet. And that’s not even before paying for health insurance for me and my child. Again I say SEPTA AND ITS EMPLOYEES NEED TO STOP BEING SO DAMN GREEDY.

        • Michele

          That’s right Jae!!! I agree 100%! these wining brats need to get with the times. it’s tough EVERYWHERE but only the SEPTA union babies are complaining. So MrsWicker I am sorry that you can not buy your new BMW or take the trip to another country like you wanted but get over yourself and put yourself in other’s shoes that rely on septa to get to work, the people that live paycheck to paycheck. so please take your soapbox somewhere else becasue no one here is buying what you are selling.

  • Ryder

    11% and 8.5% pay increases sound pretty darn good to me! And the unions are willing to strike over these pay increases?!

    • veritas

      Divide those numbers by five. These people have had no raise for five years. This does not even equal the inflation rate. Suddenly things start to make sense.

      • buzzbye

        Wha wha wha. These clowns are the ones that decided to work w/o a contract stupid. Not our problem! In case you have not noticed, with the o t they make they thousands of dollars they rack up more than compensates for it esp the crying they do. I understand they have to work split shifts during the week. Stand by to cover call outs. I get that. BUt these clowns should be thankful for job security and the outstanding benefits they have compared to the rest of the working class right now

        • jack burton

          Your great. I’m sure mom and dad are proud that you have internet muscles.

          • buzzbye

            Aw jack me boy! did I hurt your wittle feeling with the truth?

      • Michele

        neither have i and you don’t see me complaining. and they make more than me.

      • Jae

        But again I say the pay that they do get a year is probably more than the average person. If the union is going to strike, let it be because you all want better work conditions safer trains, something worth really fighting for. Septa and its workers are robbing the city blind. At the end of the day who really looses, who will have to come out of their pockets??? WE DO!!!!! The average rider that makes $20 – 50K less than SEPTA and its WORKER, when the prices of transpasses, tokens, and fares GO UP!

    • Ryder

      I’m not saying those rates are too generous – they’re probably about right. But sitting around the kitchen table thinking about an individual family’s finances, it’s a hard call to strike and lose a few paychecks rather than take a hefty pay increase. Imaging going home and having to explain to your wife that you won’t be bringing home a paycheck for a few weeks, or possibly even a few months, because all SEPTA was willing to give was a 11% or 8.5% increase over what you have been making. A strike might sound like a good idea to the union leaders, but it doesn’t pass the wife-test.

  • Big Mikey

    Would you like all the things talked about in the article, buzzbye? Apply… they can’t get or keep people with the requirements of the job. If you only knew… but the uninformed are usually the ones yelling the loudest.

  • Charli3baltimor3

    I’m a BLET member. This OT that they are telling you about is no where near how they describe it. First off yes I and my Coworkers took this job with the understanding of what it was asking. We had no idea how much more was required than described. It’s not just about the raises that yes we would like, it’s about septa lying not only to us but you as well. Every year money for our raises or for more trains in put into a budget that they ask the state help with. So that money that was put into consideration for us.. Where is it? We haven’t recieved it so where is it going? Now that should make you mad seeing as the tolls have just increased to help with this budget. Yes were asking for retro, the money that was suppose to be incorporated into our pay over the last four years. We’re not asking for anymore than that. Septa has also said everyone has accepted these terms, not true. The terms everyone has been taken are not the terms we are being offered. They pay into a pension that septa does not pay into for us. We have no pension. We pay into our own retirement and it’s a pretty hefty bill weekly that we pay. The bottom line however is that Septa is lying to everyone. They make the city feel like the fair increases are because of the unions and their petty demands. They’ve never paid us retro so those four years of raises that we haven’t recieved.. 1)where did the money go and 2)why are they still increasing fairs if they’re saving so much by not giving raises. Btw our overtime is four hrs pay on our sixth day. I may good money yes but I promise if you worked out here for one week you’d feel the same way we do… Tired of our company abusing us and it’s city.

    • Natalie S.

      Every professional job has the “other duties as assigned.” Get over it. People in other field pay into their own retirement/pension too.

      And I’ve seen SEPTA spending that money – fixing up stations, tracks, trains/buses, moving toward a new smart payment method, etc….it’s not like SEPTA’s CEOs are sitting in their offices making it rain and buying hookers or something. I think the union leaders are painting a different picture for you.

      Fare increases have to do with increase in costs – new equipment, salaries, increased cost of benefits for employees, increase cost of gas, etc. It makes sense for the fares to increase but when we see these huge of increases in salaries and a refusal to contribute more to benefits when the cost of them goes up, you should be able to understand us being upset. It is just like when college students see a president’s salary increasing significantly at the same time as their tuition skyrockets.

  • Jae

    You have got to be kidding me. Most Septa workers make more than money than the law allows and the transportation service still SUCKS!!!!!! They need to stop thinking about their on greed and pay attention to what is going on around them. People ought to feel safe when riding the Regional Trains not worry about if they are going to get hit by a Train or worry about passing out from the overwhelming heat when the air conditioner has malfunctioned. And God Forbid if there are NOT ENOUGH cars for a particular destination, then WE THE RIDERS are packed on a Train like sardines!!!!!! Then SEPTA has the audacity to raise fares and prices for trans/trailpasses and claim its for “repairs”??????. SEPTA and its workers needs to stop HIJACKING the people of this city, STOP BEING SO FLIPPING GREEDY AND GET THEIR ACTS TOGETHER!!!!!!

    • Michele

      jae i think we are long lost relatives lol you read my mind yet again :)

    • Charli3baltimor3

      Pay attention to everything you just said… Air conditioning and heat problems are due to the company’s negligence. The last of safety is again the companies negligence. We the greedy engineers as you call us are asking for septa to be held to their word. We want them to say “Ok well talk to you on this day and have things resolved by that day” and not put us off for five years before they decide to deal with us. You can call us greedy but you have in both your comments grouped us the worker to the company. We don’t like going this route anymore than you but before you start telling us how wrong we are, ask yourself “why does every worker at septa come to some sort of conflict with the company?” don’t tell me to get over it and quit because instead of me quiting I’m fighting for better conditions. I’m asking for respect and I’m sure you can appreciate respect and consideration.

      • Jae

        I can appreciate your response and the fact that we all have families to take care, but please understand whether you are an engineer, conductor or the person cleaning the tracks or even the president of SEPTA all of you are 1 unit, 1 organization, it is on all of you. If one section fails you all fail and “we” the riders pay for it.

        • Charli3baltimor3

          I agree 100% with you on that and I as well as my brothers and sisters wish there were different tactics. I also agree with you on the one unit part, however the company keeps us (please remember I’m speaking on the railroads division only) from showing anymore compassion than we already do. Whenever there’s a situation with a passenger regardless as to who at fault we are IMMEDIATELY taken out of service which means no paycheck. We don’t return to work until the situation is resolved. We try to keep interactions to a minimum because of this. So it’s a little difficult to try and look for everyone else around when those that were looking for are used to fire us on a whim.
          Sent from my HTC

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        • Charli3baltimor3

          I agree 100% with you on that and I as well as my brothers and sisters wish there were different tactics. I also agree with you on the one unit part, however the company keeps us (please remember I’m speaking on the railroads division only) from showing anymore compassion than we already do. Whenever there’s a situation with a passenger regardless as to who at fault we are IMMEDIATELY taken out of service which means no paycheck. We don’t return to work until the situation is resolved. We try to keep interactions to a minimum because of this so septa p

          Sent from my HTC

          —– Reply message —–

    • Charli3baltimor3

      Btw there is no law saying I can only make so much money. Only 5% of 200 make $90k+ a year, 44% of that goes to taxes, and they lose out on all the family time people take for granite because they have to work 90-100 hrs a week to make that. The rest of us make no where near that.

  • Natalie S.

    I work overtime all the time but I am salaried (as employees making this much money should be too – I have 2 masters degrees and make $10-50k+ less than these people). I do not choose to suck my employer dry like some of these unions are trying to do. No raise in 5 years? I’ve gotten 2% in 5 years and an increase of likely 20-30% in the cost of my health insurance. The economy is struggling. Why does this group of people deserve money more than anyone else? This is why my transit pass will have to increase too.

    I understand the need for raises. Be happy they are able to give one. Asking for retroactive raises is ridiculous. If I went to my employer and said, “hey I’ve gotten less than 2% raise over the past few years, I think I should get 11% this year, oh and I want you to give me that money for the past few years too” I would get laughed out of the office….just look at how insane that sounds. I know you want to make more money, we all do, but if each employee in every field gets paid as much as they want, everything will cost so much none of us can afford it.

  • Debbie Thomas

    Please note that it says TWU won’t join “this WEEKEND” . Of course not. They’ll wait until Monday.

  • tt

    The bottom line is both of these unions have agreed to forgo there right to strike if septa agreed to let an independent 3rd party arbitrator (binding arbitration) settle the case. In fact the electrical workers have agreed to this twice but septa has denied this option. If septa was so sure they were in the right why not let it be settled in binding arbitration.

  • Hi, my name is REALITY.

    Charli3baltimor3 I understand that you are overworked and feel lied to. Septa and your lovely union president need to better communicate the reality of the situation. As a country, our economy is down. Health care coverage just sky rocketed, especially for businesses covering employees (starting at $18,000 to cover EACH family). Very few job openings are even offering benefits at all. Most job openings are considered “temp” or “trial” or “internship”. Few jobs offer healthcare, pension plans, contracts, or hourly rates above $15.

    In Philadelphia, wage taxes are higher than anywhere else. Across the board, businesses and their employees are struggling to avoid layoffs and cuts in hours. SEPTA is not some big bad business making billions, millions, or even thousands of dollars. Septa is a public program. Most of Septa’s funding comes from state and national transit funding grants (A.K.A.: our tax dollars). The rest comes from revenue from ticket sales (about 40%). We pay to work and live in Philly and then we pay up towards $200 PER MONTH for regional rail transit passes.

    If the cost of each worker in your union goes up, with no room to fluctuate relative to the reality of the local economy, the people who depend on Septa regional rail are damned and left with no room to voice financial concerns. This union contract costs portion of Septa’s budget is virtually untouchable. If the money doesn’t come from taxes/government funding, our rates will almost definitely go up.
    From a strictly business standpoint, this demanded contract is unsustainable and unrealistic relative to the local economy and ignores the most basic business principles.

    How can Septa financially afford to commit to the union demands including 14.5% pay increases, pension plan increases/improvements, and healthcare premiums kept down to 1%? Across all of Septa, we are talking BILLIONS. Think money in and money out. Economically, this contract is a disaster waiting to happen. Politically, this contract is a delusional power trip that should be set straight. It’s all money baby… and this aint adding up. Sorry.
    And to walk out and strike on those of us who make a quarter of your wages and none of your benefits? Leaving us without PUBLIC transportation? Septa is a public program. I will happily switch jobs with you any day of the week.

    Unions are in place to protect its workers first and foremost. Your union should be pushing to hire more workers to reduce your hours if that is your biggest complaint. Your union is failing and should step up to bring in more workers. When did unions turn into delusional groups who feel entitled to more, even when the very industry you serve is already struggling to make ends meet?

    Please remember, government funding is OUR TAX DOLLARS!! Please think about the reality of the current local, state, and national economies. Think about the public programs and areas that NEED our tax dollars. It is a damn shame that we are strong-armed into handing over more money just because an old law gave unions power to strike. That power is being royally abused and should be taken away.
    We need to stop listening to sob stories and start being realistic about the hard dollar amounts. This should be a financial issue, NOT a political one.