SEPTA awaits union reply to 'final offer'

Posted: April 09, 2014

SEPTA officials waited Monday for a union response to the transit agency's "final offer" in labor negotiations aimed at avoiding a strike by bus and subway workers.

Union leaders told SEPTA on Monday they could not continue negotiations on key elements of a proposed contract without more information from SEPTA.

No new talks were scheduled. But a strike did not appear imminent, as no strike-authorization vote had been called by leaders of Transport Workers Union Local 234.

The last of four contracts for about 5,500 city and suburban bus, subway, and other nonrailroad workers expired Sunday night, raising the prospect of the first strike against SEPTA since 2009.

The two sides appear much closer to a settlement than they did a week ago, and SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams characterized SEPTA's proposal on Sunday night as its "final offer."

SEPTA is now offering a two-year contract with wage hikes of 2 percent the first year and 3 percent in the second year. Workers would have to spend an additional 1 percent of their wages on health-insurance premiums under the proposal.

The union has proposed wage increases of 5 percent a year for two years, with no increase in health-insurance premiums.

SEPTA withdrew its proposal to change the union's pension plan to require new hires be placed in a separate plan that would be funded by the employees, with a contribution from SEPTA.

"We remain committed to good-faith negotiations with the union for a contract, and we hope the union will return to the bargaining table to resume discussions over a longer-term agreement," Williams said.

Union leaders are seeking more demographic data from SEPTA officials about those employees affected by the proposed pension and health-insurance terms.

In a letter Monday to SEPTA labor chief Stephanie Deiger, union president Willie Brown said the transit agency had not responded to three union requests for that information.

"As you know, under the Pennsylvania Public Employee Relations Act, SEPTA is required to provide the information requested by the union," Brown wrote. "Indeed, we cannot continue to negotiate over health benefits and other matters currently on the table without first receiving the information we requested."

" Final is a troublesome word," union spokesman Jamie Horwitz said Monday of SEPTA's most recent proposal. "We're still of the impression that there is a lot more to work out."

Williams said the agency was "trying to pull that together, but they're asking for thousands of pages of documents. It's a very voluminous request." She said SEPTA presented the union with four financial briefings early last month.


pnussbaum@phillynews.com

215-854-4587 @nussbaumpaul

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|