Tuesday, November 03, 2009

SEPTA strike: transit halted

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The Philadelphia transit system's largest union went on strike early Tuesday, stalling the city's bus, subway and trolley operations a day after the World Series shifted to New York and forcing commuters to scramble to find other ways to get to their destinations, the Associated Press reports.

The strike by Transport Workers Union Local 234 will all but cripple a transit system that averages more than 928,000 trips each weekday. The union represents more than 5,000 drivers, operators and mechanics of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

The Election Day strike also affects buses that serve the suburbs in Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester counties. Regional rail service was still operating, but trains were delayed as they experienced higher-than-normal crowds.

The union membership voted Oct. 25 to authorize a strike. They have been without a contract since March.

Union workers, who earn an average $52,000 a year, are seeking an annual four percent wage hike and want to keep the current one percent contribution they make toward the cost of their health care coverage. SEPTA was offering an 11.5 percent wage increase over five years, with no raise in the first year and increases in workers' pensions.

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