Sorry folks, but yawn-o-rama here. Again? How many times has this come about in the past year? How many strikes have been averted? SEPTA, SEPTA, SEPTA, you need a new way to get attention.
Here’s some drama-mongering:
Six months of a tense truce between SEPTA and the Transport Workers Union will end Sunday when 4,600 members, who have worked without a contract since March and without a raise for nearly two years, will meet to discuss a strike.
“We are tired of waiting,” declared Local 234 president Jeff Brooks in his notice to members, which appeared on the union’s Web site yesterday. “To get a fair contract, we are prepared to act. We can and will strike.”
So why this strike? Why this threat? Because SEPTA is asking their workers to do a small co-pay for the medical benefits.
Let’s step back, shall we? SEPTA employees don’t pay jackshit for healthcare right now. No co-pay. No out of pocket at all. And from what I understand, no “out of paycheque” expenses. In exchange for this, they get no vacation days and no paid sick leave. All days off or missed work is unpaid. Ok, so a downside for the upside.
Stepping back again, why do these folks deserve such good benefits? Over the past year, GPS systems have been installed in the buses. All of them. Functional GPS systems. This was done for two reasons: to track where the buses were and to keep the drivers from getting way lost. Now, because of this, when you can SEPTA’s local hotline, the folks in the “command center” can tell where buses are (or aren’t) on the route. I’ve done this twice, usually on Sunday mornings. The conversation usually goes something like this:
Me: Hi! I’ve been waiting for x bus for an hour now. According to the schedule, three buses should have some by y location by now. Is a driver out? Is someone sick?
Surprised SEPTA rep: Umm…hang on a second.
Me: Ok. ::hangs::
Surprised SEPTA rep: The driver is saying that he went through there 20 minutes ago…we can’t really…ummm…find him on the GPS system. Wait! No…we’ve got him. He’s…uhhhh…parked. Hang on.
At this point, they usually hang up on me because it’s pretty shameful to have to admit that a SEPTA driver is parked and lying to his bosses. This has happened at least twice. Usually on a weekend, but there are so many cases of buses or trolleys just not running or zooming past, despite being not-full and ready to take passengers. (I was late to work because of one such bus.)
Now. Having looked at that, do we really think these people need the best benefits in the city? Do they deserve them? As a whole, I don’t think so. Maybe I’m being selfish about where my fares go; but if I’m going to be paying for these benefits, I expect to get something out of that deal. Like maybe employees who do their job…?