Court to hear SEPTA’s plea to end transport strike in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, U.S. - Merely a day before United States sets out to elect its new president, 5,000 transit workers completed their first week of strike in Pennsylvania, one of the battleground ...


• SEPTA is more interested in court order than negotiating with unions, claims TWU

• SEPTA adamant to end strike through court order

• The strike can work as a catalyst in further working class uprising in Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA, U.S. - Merely a day before United States sets out to elect its new president, 5,000 transit workers completed their first week of strike in Pennsylvania, one of the battleground states in the election. 

The walkout has caused panic amongst authorities as the strike is likely to jeopardise the vote count. 

Philadelphia has largely favoured democrats.

Earlier, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and Democrats on the local and state level filed a motion in the court to temporarily end the strike on November 8, the Election Day but the court rejected the motion. They will have another go at it on Monday when the hearings begin at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, who was elected two years ago with unions’ full backing condemned the strike and voiced in favour of the injunction. 

He said, “This strike has been devastating for so many individuals and their families and has created extreme hardships for the city and for businesses. The time for it to end is now.”

“Due to the inability of SEPTA and TWU to reach a compromise, I will file an amicus brief in support of the immediate injunction pending before the court to ensure that the system is fully operational and able to serve the individuals who rely solely on SEPTA for their transportation needs,” Wolf added.

SEPTA has claimed that elderly, disabled and ill would be at risk of loss of subway, bus and trolley services during the strike and they may not turnout on the election day.

“We are not going to lie down while they can't resolve this strike, and just watch our passengers suffer. Not going to do it,” Gino Benedetti, a lawyer for SEPTA said. 

Jamie Horwitz, a spokesperson for the Transportation Workers Union Local 234 has claimed that the union does not expect the strike, which began on October 31, to affect voter turnout in the city.

The strike is seen to be a result of the Democratic Party’s failure to handle the working class in the state. 

It has led to an attack on public services, closing schools, slashing funding to public housing, and attacking jobs, wages, health, and pension benefits of municipal workers. 

Ahead of the election, the main concern for the party is that the strike could lead to a broader movement in the working class backed by financial and corporate interests.

TWU Local 234 President Willie Brown has claimed that SEPTA has been more interested in ending the strike through a court order rather than negotiating on the pending issues. 

He also complained that the transit authority contributed millions of dollars more to the management pension fund than the pension fund for the workers.

“Last year, the transit authority gave each management retiree a $5,000 annual increase in their pension cheques. 

Managers have both defined benefit pension and a generous match to a 401K plan,” Brown said.

While the strike could be an issue for Democrats, who earlier claimed that ‘If we win Pennsylvania, we win this election,’ it might be a weapon for the Republicans and it can very well influence the voting on Tuesday.

 

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