In a unanimous decision, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) has voted to authorize a strike due to a range of issues including being short-staffed, lack of raises, and the absence of certain benefits. Similarly, the union representing SEPTA’s regional rail lines, SMART-ED, has also announced that its members have voted to authorize a strike. On top of that, the union representing SEPTA’s Transit Police has already authorized a strike and could potentially go on strike as early as Monday evening.
One of the critical concerns highlighted by BLET Vice President James P. Louis is the low pay for engineers and trainmen working for SEPTA. He points out that newly promoted engineers at SEPTA earn approximately 58 percent less per hour than their counterparts in other commuter lines in the Northeast. It takes SEPTA engineers about fifteen years, three to five times longer than other railroads across the country, to reach the full pay rate, which is still approximately 20 percent lower than that of other carriers in the Northeast. Consequently, many engineers have left SEPTA for better-paying positions at Amtrak or elsewhere.
Adding to the discontent is the lack of certain benefits provided to SEPTA rail employees, such as parental leave and pension plans available to other commuter agencies and bus drivers. This further emphasizes the union’s frustrations with the current situation.
The strike authorizations by BLET and SMART-ED undoubtedly put significant pressure on SEPTA. With the potential for multiple strikes across various union groups, SEPTA faces the possibility of severe disruptions to its services. Both the BLET and SMART-ED have not yet determined the specific strike dates, but the situation will continue to unfold in the coming days.
What are the main reasons behind the strike authorization?
The strike authorization is a result of several issues, including being short-staffed, lack of raises for employees, and the absence of certain benefits such as parental leave and pension plans.
Why are SEPTA engineers paid less compared to their counterparts in other commuter lines?
SEPTA engineers earn significantly less due to the longer time it takes them to reach the full pay rate, which is approximately 20 percent lower than that of engineers working for other carriers in the Northeast.
What impact could these strikes have on SEPTA’s services?
The strikes by multiple union groups, including the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and SMART-ED, could potentially disrupt SEPTA’s services and cause significant inconvenience for passengers. The strike by the union representing SEPTA’s Transit Police has already been authorized and could commence on Monday evening.