November 9, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Philadelphia, PA – The strike that stopped Philadelphia buses, trolleys, and subways for six days ended just before 5 a.m. Nov. 7, when Transport Workers Union Local 234 signed a tentative five-year contract with the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
The deal came several hours after a three-way conversation among Local 234 President Willie Brown, SEPTA general manager Jeff Knueppel, and Democratic congressional candidate Dwight Evans. Neither side would disclose details of the agreement, but sources with knowledge of it told the Philadelphia Inquirer that wages would rise by about 10.5% and the $46 a month TWU members pay for health insurance would go up by 1% or less. The deal would also end limits on how much workers’ pensions can be, but calculate their benefits on a flat rate based on years of service. “As everyone with experience in collective bargaining knows, we didn’t get everything we wanted,” Brown said, “but we came a long way from where we were prior to the strike.” The about 4,700 union workers are scheduled to vote on ratifying it Nov. 18. R