November 7, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Philadelphia, PA – The strike that stopped subway and bus service in Philadelphia entered its third day Nov. 3, as talks broke down between Transport Workers Union Local 234 and the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
The union, which represents the 4,700 striking workers, wants the maximum pension increased for the first time in seven years, while management wants workers to pay an estimated $350 a month more for health care. Another issue is “slate shifts,” in which bus drivers might work a night shift and then a morning shift with only nine hours off between them, and “swing shifts,” in which they have to be on the job for 12 to 14 hours, but don’t get paid when they’re not driving. “It’s a long day even if you have a break,” Ernie Freedman, 63, told the Philly Voice while on a picket line Nov. 2. “And then, you’re only getting paid for eight or nine hours.” Drivers also say they don’t know what their schedule will be from week to week and that their break when they finish a route is five minutes or less, often not enough time to go to the bathroom. The strike affects city bus and subway lines, but commuter rail, suburban buses, and the “Speedline” train from Philadelphia to South Jersey are running. Read more