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.