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SEPTA workers likely to go on strike in near future

Pennsylvania readers may have heard that Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority workers, which includes train, bus and trolley operators, are likely to go on strike in the near future due to a contract dispute with the transportation authority. The dispute, according to the union, involves the issue of pensions and other important matters.

Unionized SEPTA employees have reportedly been working without a contract since the spring, when the previous agreement ended. Since then, the union and SEPTA have been unable to agree on the terms of the labor contract. According to those in the know, the biggest issue in the negotiations is an inequality in the pension system. Specifically, union members pay 3.5 percent toward their retirement benefits, which is roughly three times the amount that managers pay. The union is essentially demanding that workers get out what they pay in. 

Labor disputes, of course, often involve difficult issues and intractable impasses between workers and the companies that employee them. When unions and companies are unable to reach an agreement on a set of issues through discussion and negotiation, there are a variety of ways to settle the dispute, including conciliation, mediation, arbitration, and court action. Ideally, labor disputes are able to be solved with the least invasive means possible, such as mediation and voluntary arbitration.

Alternative dispute resolution processes such as mediation are not only used in labor disputes, but in a variety of disputes, including personal injury cases, insurance cases, family law cases, wrongful death actions, and construction disputes. Mediation is not the best solution in every case, of course, but in some cases it can provide an effective means of settling a dispute without the privacy, financial and time costs of litigation.

Source: philly.com, “SEPTA union: We’re going on strike, but not right now,” Vinny Vella, October 28, 2014. 

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