A 98.84 percent majority of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) members working for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) have voted to authorize a strike when a mandatory 30-day cooling off period under the Railway Labor Act comes to an end in less than two weeks.
Locomotive engineers could walk off the job, or be locked out by SEPTA, at 12:01 a.m. EST on June 14, 2014, unless President Obama intervenes and appoints a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB). A PEB would delay a strike or lockout by the parties and would investigate and issue a report and recommendations concerning the dispute.
The National Mediation Board released the BLET and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) from mediation with SEPTA on May 14, creating a 30-day cooling off period, which expires June 14. At that point, self-help is available to the parties, which means BLET and/or IBEW could go on strike.
BLET Vice President Steve Bruno noted that the union’s goal remains to bring the dispute to resolution in the most expeditious manner possible.
“It is unfortunate that SEPTA’s refusal to bargain in good faith makes the June 14 self-help deadline the best option for our members. In any event, the citizens of Philadelphia should be prepared for the shutdown of SEPTA’s rail service in the Philadelphia metropolitan area if a strike or lockout should occur,” Bruno said. “While we recognize there is never a good time for a strike we have been very patient and continued to provide service without a contract for four years and our members deserve a conclusion to their contract negotiations. The date presents the best potential commuting weather conditions and avoids the impact a strike will have on the counties’ school children.”