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Philadelphia Transit Union Strike

 
 
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 06:25 am
This is the reason why union membership is going down across the country, and why support for Unions is declining.

They want guarenteed 4% annual raises and their healthcare benefits to be capped at 1% of their pay. What a ******* joke! Almost 10% unemployement, pay freezes or worse at pretty much every company worldwide, and these assholes think they deserve 4% raises.

This probably doesn't help the city's cause for people to use more public transportion either.



http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091104/ap_on_bi_ge/us_philadelphia_transit_strike
Quote:
PHILADELPHIA " The first day of a transit strike caused widespread delays and frustrated thousands of commuters who had to find other ways to get around Pennsylvania's largest city.

On Wednesday, there will be an even greater test of how Philadelphia can cope without its bus, subway and trolley system as public schools, which were closed for Election Day, reopen. On an average weekday, about 54,000 public and parochial students use the city's transit system to get to school.

"Our expectations are for students and employees to do their best to come to school," school district spokesman Fernando Gallard said. "We're just hoping for the best here."

The sudden strike called early Tuesday by Transport Workers Union Local 234 all but crippled the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, which averages more than 928,000 trips each weekday. The transit agency's largest union walked away from negotiations on a new contract over disagreements on wage, pension and health care issues.

Union workers, who earn an average of $52,000 a year, are seeking an annual 4 percent wage hike and want to keep the current 1 percent contribution they make toward the cost of health care coverage. Their contract expired in March.

SEPTA was offering an 11.5 percent wage increase over five years, with a $1,250 signing bonus in the first year, and increases in workers' pensions, SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney said.

"We're very anxious to get back to the bargaining table, ASAP," Maloney said Tuesday. "We haven't heard back from them."

Several messages left with the union by The Associated Press seeking further comment on the negotiations were not returned Tuesday, and no further meetings had been scheduled.

Labor experts agree that a walkout over wages in a down economy is a hard sell. Striking transit workers may have a tough time earning the sympathy of passengers who are losing their own jobs and taking salary cuts, said Harley Shaiken, a labor studies professor at the University of California-Berkeley.

"For public employees during a tough recession, it's more difficult, but not impossible, to gain broader support," Shaiken said. "The key is convincing people that your victory benefits them rather than comes at their expense."

Gov. Ed Rendell, who had stepped in to mediate negotiations last weekend, was stunned by the walkout. Given the recession, layoffs and salary freezes in other sectors, the governor said SEPTA's offer was "sensational."

"It's just an excellent contract in the context of the times," Rendell said. "It was, in my judgment, nuts to walk out. I think the SEPTA workers would have jumped at this."

As recently as Monday evening, union officials had given no walkout deadline as talks continued. So early morning commuters on Tuesday were bewildered and frustrated by locked subway stations and vacant bus stops.

"Everybody hates SEPTA, and this is why," said Ranisha Allen, who said she had no option but to count on the kindness of car-owning neighbors to get her to work from her north Philadelphia home. "These people go on strike and they don't think about people they hurt, people who can't get to work, kids who can't get to school."

Robert Washington, who rode his bicycle from West Philadelphia to get to his office job downtown Tuesday, called the walkout "arrogant" on the transit workers' part.

"They have a lot of nerve to ask for more money in this economy," Washington said. "There are people who don't have jobs who would love to have one of their jobs."

Generally speaking, management can afford to be tougher in an economic downturn in part because more labor is available, said Robert Trumble, director of the Virginia Labor Studies Center at Virginia Commonwealth University. At the same time, he said, workers are more determined to hang on to what they have and tend to look more critically at things like income distribution.

Philadelphia avoided a black eye over the weekend after the union, which represents more than 5,000 SEPTA drivers, operators and mechanics, held off on its threat to strike while the city hosted three World Series games. The subway ferries thousands of fans to the baseball stadium.

But coming as it did on Election Day, there were complaints that voters scrambling to find alternate transportation would be left with no time to cast ballots. A judge turned down a request to keep polls open an hour later.

The strike also affects buses that serve the suburbs in Bucks, Montgomery and Chester counties. Regional rail service is still operating, but trains were delayed as they experienced larger-than-normal crowds.

A 2005 SEPTA strike lasted seven days, while a 1998 transit strike lasted for 40 days.

Frank Brinkman, a union member who does electronic work on an elevated SEPTA train, was on the picket line Tuesday. He said he was concerned about pension issues and changes to work rules.

He said that the union didn't want to strike, but SEPTA gave it no choice.

"We don't want to see anybody suffer," he said. "We have to stand up for our rights."
 
mysteryman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 06:36 am
Fire every one of them that went on strike!!!

If they walked off their jobs, that means to me that they dont want their jobs, so fire all of them and hire more people.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 06:38 am
@maporsche,
I suppose if a union here only wanted a 4% rise - THAT would be a reason to leave it. Very Happy
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 06:52 am
@mysteryman,
here's were i lose my perceived lib status

i fought tooth and nail against the union (CAW) coming into a former work place (parts supplier for the auto industry)

i like the theory of a union, but hate what they've become, bloated bureaucracy, protecting workers that don't deserve it

ronald reaginize the bastards, one and all
0 Replies
 
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 06:56 am
@mysteryman,
I couldn't agree more. I'm sure there are at least 5000 qualified people in Philly willing and able to take their places, likely for less than the 50k/yr that they're making now. Was anyone else surprised to hear that bus drivers make that much?
Gala
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 07:43 am
Union support isn't declining because of the demands, the support is declining because big money interests have found ways of getting around unions. When a union negotiates its contract it aims high knowing it's going to be wittled down. Just like the other side goes low on raises because they know they'll probably have to raise it.

It's a game on both sides and it's hardball. $52,000 a year is not a lot of money considering how expensive life has become so if they can get a little more, why not?

Remember the article says they're being offered something around 11.25% raise over the course of 5 years-- that's around 2% and a little higher each year-- if they get themselves up to 3% and balk then I'll think they're being unrealistic.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 07:44 am
@maporsche,
Well, that's 'turbo-capitalism', I think.

I'm glad to live in a society with labour laws.
0 Replies
 
Gala
 
  2  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 07:45 am
@maporsche,
Quote:
I couldn't agree more. I'm sure there are at least 5000 qualified people in Philly willing and able to take their places, likely for less than the 50k/yr that they're making now. Was anyone else surprised to hear that bus drivers make that much?

You completely miss the point. Unions protect the little guy, no matter how objectionable you find their behavior, they still have to fight for a good wage and good benefits.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 07:45 am
@maporsche,
maporsche wrote:
Was anyone else surprised to hear that bus drivers make that much?


I was surprised to read it was so low. That's less than what Toronto transit operators started at in 2005.
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 07:53 am
@Gala,
Gala wrote:

You completely miss the point. Unions protect the little guy, no matter how objectionable you find their behavior, they still have to fight for a good wage and good benefits.


50k/year, healthcare out of pocket benefits capped at $500 annually, a very decent pension plan, no-layoff clause, and being able to pick or decline the job you want to do.

Yeah, they're the little guys!!!

They have better pay and benefits than over 80% of America I'd wager.

"Protect the little guy..." ROTFLMAO Laughing Laughing Laughing
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 07:56 am
@ehBeth,
No wonder public transportation can't keep it's costs down.

We're paying bus drivers $30/hr in salary, PLUS some of the best/cheapest healthcare benefits in the country, PLUS a pension plan.
Tai Chi
 
  5  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 07:59 am
@maporsche,
maporsche wrote:
Was anyone else surprised to hear that bus drivers make that much?


Gosh, I can just hear the tone in that statement. Bus drivers? The very idea.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 08:03 am
@maporsche,
Why shouldn't they make a decent income? What do you think people would say about your income if they knew what it was?
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 08:03 am
@Tai Chi,
Exactly, they drive a bus around...not exactly skilled labor.
We're paying these guys probably close to $70k in total benefits.
Really, I'm the only one who is surprised by this?

AND they want MORE in THIS economy.
I hope they all lose their jobs.
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 08:06 am
@ehBeth,
For one, they shouldn't make that much income because there are people willing to do the exact same job for much less. Which I'm sure you see in areas where there isn't a transit union.
0 Replies
 
Gala
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 08:06 am
@maporsche,
Quote:
"Protect the little guy..." ROTFLMAO

I'm glad you had a good laugh. You completly miss the point.
Gala
 
  2  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 08:09 am
@ehBeth,
Quote:
Why shouldn't they make a decent income? What do you think people would say about your income if they knew what it was?

Because, they're only bus drivers, ebeth. That's not skilled labor, that's any mans work. I think they ought to fire the lot of them and rehire people at $7 an hour.
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 08:13 am
@Gala,
If people can do the same job, at the same level of skill, for that wage, then yes, I agree.

If there were the case, we could afford to expand mass transit to areas where right now it is way too expensive. More and more people would be able to afford to ride MT. Fewer and fewer cars would be on the road. Taxes could be lowered or tax money could be re-allocated to better uses. Think of all the possibilities.

Mass transit serves those most in need, those in poverty and the elderly; if costs were reduced there could be more help provided to these groups.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 08:15 am
@maporsche,
maporsche wrote:

Exactly, they drive a bus around...not exactly skilled labor.


you really don't know what you're talking about.
Gala
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 08:18 am
@ehBeth,
Quote:
you really don't know what you're talking about.

Yeah, maporsche, you really don't.
 

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