PHILADELPHIA — Around 4,700 Transport Workers Union Local 234 workers went on strike at midnight, shutting down many of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) transit services in the city, NPR reports.
The strike is causing widespread disruption, and raising concerns that if the situation is not resolved it may interfere with Election Day next week. Regional rail is the only service still operating, and even before the strike, rail services were operating "at near capacity."
The strike was initiated after negotiations broke down over issues including health care costs, pensions, and worker rest, according to reports. For the full story, click here.
Below is SEPTA's statement on the union's decision to strike:
"SEPTA negotiators have worked tirelessly for months in an effort to reach a fair contract agreement with TWU Local 234 and avoid a service disruption. Unfortunately, the union's leaders tonight elected to take the 4,700-plus members who work in the City Transit Division out on strike.
"The decision by TWU President Willie Brown leaves thousands of SEPTA customers without the transit services they rely on for travel to-and-from work, school and medical appointments. In doing so, Mr. Brown walked away from a contract offer that would have provided his members pay raises, enhanced pension benefits, maintained health care coverage levels and continued job security, while also remaining fair and affordable for the taxpayers and riders who fund SEPTA.
"SEPTA negotiators stand ready and willing to continue bargaining, and the authority urges Mr. Brown and TWU leadership to return to the bargaining table to negotiate an agreement that will end a severely disruptive work stoppage.
"We are hopeful that a tentative agreement will be reached before Election Day. If we foresee an agreement will not come to pass, SEPTA intends to seek to enjoin the strike for November 8th to ensure that the strike does not prevent any voters from getting to the polls and exercising their right to vote."