Obama Intervenes in Philadelphia Rail Strike

Saturday, 14 Jun 2014 07:59 PM

 

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
    A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

President Barack Obama on Saturday intervened in a commuter rail strike in the nation's sixth-largest metropolitan area, granting Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's request to create a presidential emergency board to mediate the contract dispute between the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and its engineers and electricians unions.

Obama ordered the establishment of the three-member board effective at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. He called for "a swift and smooth resolution" of the dispute.

Corbett said the president's action will force workers to return to work and both parties to continue negotiations.

More than 400 workers went on strike at midnight, and no talks were scheduled over the weekend.

Obama is giving the board 30 days to deliver a report recommending how the dispute should be resolved.

"The people of Philadelphia and the surrounding region expect and deserve a safe and efficient rail system to get them to work, medical appointments, school and recreation," the Republican governor said in a statement. "I call on both parties to work together, find common ground and place the riders at the forefront of mind in their discussions."

The unions said they would comply with the law, but said the strike is designed to force SEPTA to agree to their demands or accept binding arbitration. Workers are seeking raises of at least 14.5 percent over five years — or about 3 percentage points more than SEPTA has offered.

"Yes, the strike is worth it. It's our intention to encourage SEPTA to make a reasonable settlement," Stephen Bruno, vice president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, said at an afternoon news conference.

The move shut down 13 train lines that carry commuters from Philadelphia to the suburbs, Philadelphia International Airport and New Jersey. SEPTA said it would take eight to 10 hours to restore service. The agency's subways, trolleys and buses continue to run.

"My head's going to hurt by the end of this day," said volunteer Rusty Schwendeman of the Traveler's Aid Society, who had helped reroute about two dozen rail travelers Saturday morning at 30th Street Station.

They often involved several connections, longer routes or a significantly higher fare on Amtrak.

Carolyn Tola, of Hamilton Square, New Jersey, and three friends paid $40 apiece to take Amtrak from central New Jersey to Philadelphia to see the Pennsylvania Ballet instead of $9 on Septa.

"We're here," Tola said, noting that the ballet tickets were nonrefundable. "We're going to relax and enjoy it."

The strike began after negotiations between the transit agency and two unions failed to reach a new contract deal Friday. The last regional rail strike, in 1983, lasted more than three months.

The labor conflict came to a head this week after SEPTA announced it would impose a deal beginning Sunday. Terms include raising electrical workers' pay immediately by an average of about $3 per hour; the top wage rate for locomotive engineers would rise by $2.64 per hour.

The strike adds to the commuting headaches in the region, where major construction projects are making it more difficult than usual to get around.

Drexel University dance team members Beverly and Angela Tomita, 18-year-old twins, had planned to take the airport line for a 2 p.m. flight home to Laguna Beach, California, for the summer.

"That's so not convenient!" Angela Tomita said when she found the region rail entrance closed at 30th Street Station. Schwendeman soon directed them to a subway-and-bus route.

"They're not the best answers, but they're the best answers I can come up with," Schwendeman told another teenager about her three-bus route home to suburban Blue Bell. "I don't want to send anybody to the middle of nowhere, either."

___

Associated Press writer Peter Jackson in Harrisburg contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Actor Booth Colman Dies at 91

Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 21:30 PM

Booth Colman, who had a long career as an actor including the role of ape scientist Dr. Zaius in the 1970s "Planet of th . . .

FSU Quarterback Jameis Winston Cleared in Campus Rape Hearing

Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 19:12 PM

Florida State University star quarterback Jameis Winston has been cleared in a student conduct code hearing looking into . . .

Satanic Temple Puts up Display at Michigan Capitol

Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 18:42 PM

Christians and Satanists put up competing displays Sunday on the Michigan Capitol grounds in Lansing as Christmas week g . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved