SEPTA unions dislike presidential panel recommendations

The board, appointed by President Obama, sided with SEPTA management, for the most part, in the labor dispute with railroad engineers and electrical workers.
The board, appointed by President Obama, sided with SEPTA management, for the most part, in the labor dispute with railroad engineers and electrical workers. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer)
Posted: July 20, 2014

The two unions representing SEPTA railroad engineers and electrical workers on Friday expressed disappointment with the recommendations of a presidential panel on their long-running labor dispute.

The panel, appointed by President Obama, on Monday sided with SEPTA management on most of the issues in the dispute, which prompted a one-day strike last month.

"We are disappointed with the recommendations of the [presidential emergency board], particularly because the board, instead of directly addressing the economic analysis of the employees, simply sidestepped the core issue of this labor dispute," the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and IBEW Local 744 said in a joint statement.

"As we have been for the past five years, we are willing and prepared to meet with SEPTA to discuss a settlement that treats our members fairly and consistent with how they have treated their other 6,000 employees. The BLET and IBEW remain committed to achieving that outcome and hope that, in light of the board's recommendations, SEPTA is, too."

SEPTA on Monday called the recommendations "a good basis for a settlement" and said its negotiators were ready to resume talks with the unions.

The presidential board, whose recommendations are not binding, said the rail workers should get the same 11.5 percent raises negotiated in a five-year contract in 2009 by bus drivers and subway operators.

The railroad workers are not entitled to retroactive raises or an additional increase based on a pension boost received by the bus drivers' union, the board said.

Those two issues are at the heart of a dispute that led to a brief strike last month by 200 engineers and 215 electrical workers. The strike, which followed years of fruitless negotiations, ended June 15 after Obama appointed the emergency board. But another walkout by the railroad workers could happen late this year or early next year if the sides do not agree to accept the board's recommendations or reach some other resolution.


pnussbaum@phillynews.com

215-854-4587

@nussbaumpaul

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