SEPTA Regional Rail Service Resumes After Obama Intervenes

SEPTA Regional Rail Service Resumes After Obama Intervenes

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PHILADELPHIA -

Regional Rail riders are breathing a huge sigh of relief after an executive order from President Obama required union workers to be back on the job.

That effectively hit the brakes on a strike that lasted 24 hours.

Regional Rail started running again Sunday morning and will be on schedule for Monday's commute to work.

While this move ordered by the president is more of a band-aid, riders won’t suffer while things get ironed out.

“I think it’s the right thing to do, because it gives them some more time to hopefully negotiate," US Representative Bob Brady (D) said.

Brady applauds the move by President Barack Obama to create a Presidential Emergency Board comprised of three people experienced in labor disputes to help mediate contract stalemates between SEPTA and BLET and IBEW Local 98.

“It’s almost like going to arbitration because they’re completely independent and they can now look at the books and be able to go to SEPTA and say we think you’re wrong or they can go to the unions and say we think you’re wrong, here’s what we think is right and then they got to make that decision," Brady said.

Governor Tom Corbett asked the president for help, less than 24 hours after regional rail workers walked off the job Saturday morning.

A spokesperson for SEPTA issued this statement regarding the move by President Obama.

“We are pleased for our riders based on the fact that workers are back on the job and the regional rail service has been restored.”

The vice president of BLET said they agreed to binding arbitration six weeks ago and that yesterday’s shutdown could have been avoided all together.

An IBEW general chairman also blamed the one day work stoppage on negotiating tactics by SEPTA and Governor Corbett.

The unions have been working without contracts for years because of sticking points in back pay and pensions.

"I actually talked to some of the conductors and I feel kind of bad for them because they’re working without a contract and it seems like an awfully long time that they can’t seem to resolve that, and I don’t quite understand that," SEPTA rider Diane Coffey said.

Riders hope the president appointed board will help fix that.

“I hope it ends with everyone being happy. Everyone coming to the table sitting down and making a deal, and everyone is happy," SEPTA rider Starr Swint said.

The Presidential Emergency Board will meet for hearings scheduled the week of June 23rd, then issue a recommendation to President Obama by July 14th.

The board expires in 240 days, meaning if things aren’t worked out by mid February, we could have another strike.

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