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October 16, 2016

SEPTA transit union votes to authorize Nov. 1 strike

SEPTA Broad Street Line Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

A SEPTA subway train enters Cecil B. Moore Station on the Broad Street Line, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016.

Members of SEPTA's Transportation Workers Union Local 234 voted unanimously on Sunday morning to authorize a strike as disagreement continues over the renegotiation of a contract set to expire at the end of the month.

The vote, held at 11 a.m. Sunday morning, signals the union's intent to strike beginning November 1.

TWU Local 234 represents SEPTA's trolley, bus and subway operators. In the event of a strike, Philadelphia's bus and trolley routes, the Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines and frontier bus routes would be all be shut down. Only Regional Rail service would remain online.

Contacted Sunday afternoon, SEPTA provided the following statement:

The parties continue to bargain to reach a new agreement. While we hope that the union does not exercise its right to strike, we are focusing on reaching a new contract that's in the best interest of our riders, employees and stakeholders.

There was no immediate word on a contingency plan for commuters in the event of a strike. 

A recent edition of the union's newsletter claimed that "SEPTA wants to destroy the health benefits all of us hold dear," specifically through cost-saving measures that would limit coverage and reduce sick leave.

In July, the union criticized SEPTA management over the timing of its announcement of structural defects found in the equalizer beams of the Hyundai-Rotem Silverliner V rail fleet. The agency's Regional Rail system officially returned to a normal schedule at the start of October. 

Attempts to reach TWU Local 234 outside normal business hours were not immediately returned.