By Evan Henerson
Earlier this week, more than 4,700 members of Transportation Workers Union Local 234 walked off the job at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), bringing Philadelphia's bustling system of subways, trolleys and buses to a halt.
The SEPTA workers say the company needs to address such topics as pension disparities, the possibility of a large increase in health-care costs and working conditions which the union says put the public in danger.
The two sides are bad mouthing each other in the press and – one hopes – negotiating behind the scenes. SEPTA has filed an injunction trying to get the courts to force the striking workers back to their jobs, claiming that the shutdown has caused a “a clear and present danger” to the region, particularly to such populations as the poor, the disabled and students who take SEPTA to get to public, charter and parochial schools.
On the ground (or underground as the case may be), the Philadelphia Inquirer’s RealTime staff is doing a bang-up job with up-the minutes updates on the strike. We learn about the seven weirdest ways to commute, that the strike has inspired a viral Facebook song, how to handle stress on your not so pleasant commute and – big surprise here – that Uber, Lyft and cabs are doing great business.
Let’s hope those alternative modes of transportation will be especially busy on Tuesday shuttling City of Brotherly Love-ians to the polls. SEPTA floated the idea of the workers put their strike on hiatus on Election Day. The union wasn’t particularly receptive to that idea.