SEPTA union leaders have been inconsiderate of their city peers.
Philadelphians woke up for work and school last Tuesday morning to find they had no way to get there, as, in an underhanded manner, members of SEPTA’s Transport Workers Union 234, announced at midnight that they would officially walk off the job in three hours.
Unions, the entities created to protect the rights and welfare of employees, aren’t the problem – as long as they don’t abuse their power. TWU 234, however, hasn’t done the best job of convincing Philadelphians they deserve what they demanded.The message SEPTA’s union leaders put forth loud and clear is that they don’t care about the everyday people of Philadelphia who constitute their ridership.
There have already been reports of SEPTA riders berating transit drivers, but riders should think twice before taking their anger out on SEPTA workers. Let’s not forget SEPTA employs non-union workers, helpless to union action. Likewise, while union workers benefited from their leaders’ negotiations – each worker will receive a $1,250 bonus derived from $7 million in state money – not every member agreed with the 3 a.m. wake-up call.
If anything, we should be disappointed in Gov. Rendell’s decision to pony up $7 million in state funding to quell union leaders’ requests, which came off as particularly selfish, especially when the nation’s unemployment rate stands at 10.2 percent and the average SEPTA employee earns $55,000 a year.
For the governor to put $7 million of much needed state money on the table – Temple’s $180 million state appropriation is still lingering in the Capitol as students face a possible spring tuition hike – seems reckless. Gov. Rendell may have helped to solve the city’s crisis, but he did so at the expense of many taxpayers whose income stands at $0. SEPTA workers certainly do not deserve additional compensation when so many other Pennsylvanians are suffering.
Gov. Rendell also pleaded for the strike to be postponed for the Phillies to play Game 5 of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park. People paid hundreds – even thousands – of dollars for World Series tickets. Realistically, those who could afford tickets that high in price would probably spring for the $12 parking at the stadium, so holding off on the strike until the end of Game 5 made no sense.
When New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority went on strike Dec. 20, 2005, a judge slapped the union with a $1 million per day fine for walking off the job, pushing workers to call off the strike just two days later. Mayor Nutter and Gov. Rendell should have taken a lesson from them to end the senseless, selfish neglect of Philadelphians by SEPTA’s union members before it extended longer than a day.