With contract talks failing to produce an agreement, SEPTA transit police may walk off the job as early as Monday afternoon, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
SEPTA management and the Fraternal Order of Transit Police Lodge 109, the union that represents SEPTA’s police officers, met over the weekend to avoid a strike. Members of the union want wages similar to those offered by other police departments in the region and say that understaffing is a result of the pay gap.
“While SEPTA is disappointed that the FOTP — in the midst of negotiations being mediated by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry — arbitrarily selected tomorrow as a strike deadline, we hope you will join us in encouraging FOTP leadership to remain at the bargaining table,” SEPTA CEO Leslie S. Richards said in a letter Sunday night to City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas and eight colleagues.
On Monday, the union’s executive board is scheduled to meet to review SEPTA’s latest offer. A strike would begin after that, union leaders said.
“We don’t want to strike but will if we have to,” said Omari Bervine, president of FOTP Lodge 109. “We’re just looking to get a fair deal, not less than what you’ve already given your other employees.”
Service would not be disrupted if the officers strike, SEPTA said. In October, union members voted to authorize a walkout and two SEPTA unions authorized strikes.