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October 30, 2016

Another day passes, still no resolution in SEPTA contract negotiations despite looming deadline

Talks resumed Sunday with a little more than 24 hours to iron out contract negotiations that might avoid a strike that would otherwise disrupt commuters who depend on SEPTA's buses, trolleys and subway system.

Despite the deadline inching closer and closer, no update came as of Sunday night for the transit system and about 5,000 unionized workers who are seeking better health care and pension plans.

Their current contract expires Monday at midnight.

Negotiations ended "abruptly" Saturday after conversations became "tense," 6ABC reported.

If no agreement is reached, the workers who belong to Transport Workers Union Local 234 could walk off the job forcing commuters to make other plans. SEPTA's Regional Rail, which faced its fair share of problems over the last couple of months after structural damages discovered in July left a third of its fleet unable to operate, would continue to run. 

The union's last strike was in 2009 and lasted six days. 

On Wednesday, SEPTA released its contingency plan to help riders that may be left with questions.

Public officials have also urged SEPTA and its workers to find a solution to avoid the strike – their concern is that if a strike continued until Nov. 8, transportation issues could impede voters' ability to get out to the polls.

“We’ve always had difficulty, on a good day, to be able to have enough support to move people to polling places,” said City Council President Darrell Clarke. “So if there is not public transportation we will clearly have a problem.” 

Mayor Jim Kenney also encouraged both parties to do what they can to avoid the situation that would negatively impact many.

“I continue to watch with concern the ongoing negotiations between SEPTA and TWU Local 234 toward a new contract," he said in a statement released Tuesday. "Any work stoppage would have an adverse effect on tens of thousands of commuters who rely on the buses, trolleys and subways to get to and from work and school – many of whom have no other affordable transportation options. I urge both sides to stay at the table and hammer out a resolution to their differences.”