The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) rejected federal efforts to end four years of stalled contract negotiations with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the IBEW on May 8.
The National Mediation Board’s offer of binding arbitration – accepted unconditionally by both unions – was declined by the transit agency, releasing the parties from mediation and kicking off a 30-day cooling off period.
The more than 400 workers have been without a new contract since 2009. SEPTA stonewalled negotiations early on, refusing to offer both unions an agreement similar to the one they reached with the Transit Workers Union Local 234, which represents city subway and bus workers.
IBEW System Council 7 General Chairman Arthur Davidson says he is disappointed by SEPTA’s unwillingness to bargain and to agree to binding arbitration.
“We’ve been reasonable in bargaining with SEPTA throughout this process,” he said. “I’m confident that if we can present our position to a neutral third party, we can end this dispute.”
The next step, under the Federal Railway Labor Act, is for one of the parties to request a Presidential Emergency Board.
Appointed by the White House, the board would hear evidence and recommend a settlement, sending labor and management back to the bargaining table.
The IBEW represents 220 electrical workers on the transit system.
“[We] are united in seeking an amicable resolution to our respective contract negotiations,” said a joint statement from both unions.
“Our objective remains to reach equitable settlements that address the needs of our members along with our friends and neighbors in the Philadelphia metropolitan area who rely on the SEPTA system.”
System Council 7, IBEW represents 3,330 railroad electricians throughout the United States.