Shortly after my update on the state of play went up last night, TWU 234 president Willie Brown came out of the negotiation session saying that a deal for a short-term, two-year contract was “close”. Talks are scheduled to resume this morning at 11:00. In terms of an actual contract deal, I’m taking an “I’ll believe it when I see it” approach, and not lifting the Strike Watch.
A shorter contract term was a union proposal, and it’s interesting that SEPTA seems inclined to accept it; they may think that their bargaining position may be strengthened by negotiating the next contract at a different point in the three-year fare hike cycle, or simply that the Regional Rail state of good repair upgrades, combined with Philly Bikeshare, will strengthen the ability of SEPTA to accommodate surge crowds in the event of a major strike. There are also not yet any reliable unbiased reports as to the precise terms of the wage and benefits provisions; again, we have to take a wait-and-see approach to them, if and when those are hammered out today.
It would be nice to see SEPTA go a full six years without a strike; its history of fractious labor relations has not served anybody well, least of all the actual workers. And I would suggest that the next time TWU wants to conduct an industrial action, they can do as they did in 1995 and blockade the Schuylkill Expressway — before escalating to a strike. If you’re going to be disruptive, the least you can do is to do the Lord’s work and be disruptive to assholes.