SEPTA Riders Are In Danger Over 35 Cents an Hour

Only in Philly does labor strike after securing an 11.5 percent raise.

You don’t hear too much about government workers striking these days. A deep and broad economic recession has turned public sentiment against public workers’ unions and any demands for more money. As the workers in the private sector suffer, as their incomes go down and their taxes go up, they have turned to candidates who promise to slash government budgets and payrolls. We’ve seen the cuts and consternation in New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin and in Harrisburg.

Most government workers’ unions are just trying to get through this time by trying to hold on to what they have … except in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Democratic party has run City Hall for six decades, and the unions control the Philadelphia Democratic party. It is the reason 219 SEPTA transit cops felt emboldened to walk off the job yesterday. This, after negotiating an 11.5 percent pay increase for themselves over the next five years, an increase unheard of in these tough times.

At issue is a 50-cent hourly raise to pay for mandatory recertification training required for all officers. SEPTA offered 15 cents an hour, on top of the pay raise they already agreed to, and Richard Neal, Jr., president of the Fraternal Order of Transit Police, says he considered that a “slap in the face.”

It seems to me the only people getting slapped in the face are the area’s transit riders, many working second jobs on late shifts just to get by. SEPTA is the transportation mode of choice for the area’s low-income worker, a worker who would love to get an 11.5 percent pay increase over the next five years. They now face the prospect of riding busses and trains through high-crime areas at all hours with less security—over a difference of 35 cents an hour.

Only in Philadelphia would this dare happen in our country’s economic condition.

I pray nothing bad happens to a SEPTA rider during this strike. If something does, blame should be put squarely on the men and women who left their post instead of staying at the bargaining table over 35 cents.