Current agreement for SEPTA’s largest group of union workers expires Oct. 31, fair wages, parental leave, compensation for families of transit workers who died due to covid, and improved security on public transit are key issues at the bargaining table.
PHILADELPHIA – Negotiators for Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 234 and SEPTA management are meeting at a hotel in Philadelphia’s historic district for daily negotiations this week and next in hopes of reaching an agreement for a new contract before the current contract expires at midnight on October 31.
Video Outlines the Union’s Major Issues at the Bargaining Table
In a video message sent to union members this morning that can be viewed here, TWU Local 234 President Willie Brown outlines the major issues being discussed at the bargaining table. Top issues for the union include fair wages and fair treatment for transit workers who have families. The union is asking for raises comparable to those received by city and school district employees. The union also is prioritizing the need for maternity leave and parental leave comparable to the leave policies at most other public sector workplaces in Philadelphia and the surrounding area. SEPTA currently does not offer parental leave until sick leave is exhausted.
The union also would like to see financial assistance provided to the families of transit workers who lost their lives during the pandemic. Other transit agencies have provided additional compensation for these essential workers who became sick or died due to contracting the coronavirus. In his video message Brown notes, in stark contrast to other transit agencies, SEPTA only sends grieving families “a fruit basket.” Eleven TWU members have died due to coronavirus-related causes, nearly 1,000 have tested positive for exposure to Covid-19 during the pandemic.
TWU also has made raising security standards for both riders and SEPTA employees an issue in bargaining. The union sees security as a workplace safety issue.
A Strike Authorization Vote May be Necessary
TWU members have not voted to authorize a strike this year and no strike authorization vote has been scheduled, however in his video message Brown says that if significant progress in bargaining is not made this week a strike vote may be called for this Sunday, Oct 24.
TWU 234 represents more than 5,000 workers in the Philadelphia area, including workers at SEPTA and Upper Darby Municipal workers.