SAFETY FIRST? HA!
Just when you thought SETPA couldn't reach any new lows, today's incident at 13 St station proves to be another embarassment for an agency that has a history of ignoring safety issues.
Shortly before 1:00pm, a westbound El train was held at 13 St station because of a medical emergency. A young woman was reportedly found unconsious and seated in car #1073. SEPTA Police and Philadelphia Fire medics responded. The victim was revived and taken to a local hospital. Yet...
A witness at the scene reported that she saw the victim in the same seat when she boarded at Bridge-Pratt at 6:30am. At least one or two other passengers verified her account. The amazing thing is that if the witness' story is correct - and quite frankly, as adamant as she was about what she saw, I found it to be credible - how was it that nobody discovered her for nearly 6 1/2 hours?
Making things more complicated, the witness claimed that she tried to tell SEPTA Police at the scene about what she saw and was reportedly ignored. From my personal observation at the scene, the officer rude towards witnesses who were trying to provide information. I can sort of understand his reaction (after all, a woman was probably near death), but still, this was beyond unprofessional, and in most cases could be considered a fireable offense. Yet, given the way unions are in Philadelphia, you have a better chance of dating Paris Hilton than you do of removing an unprofessional front line employee from his/her position.
Getting back to the issue of cleaners who are supposed to check trains at Bridge-Pratt and 69 St Terminals. I've heard through the grapevine that some of those positions may have fallen victim to the budget ax. In recent observations, I've noted fewer cleaners checking trains after runs. A couple of train operators I've spoken to recently confirm this. Still, shouldn't somebody be checking these trains after they arrive at terminals to make sure everybody is off? Or would that make too much sense for SEPTA to comprehend.
And while I'm mentioning this, could you imagine the outcry from the public if the press picked up on this story? And could you imagine what would've happened if the victim died? Did somebody say "major lawsuit?"
The current collective bargaining agreement between SEPTA and TWU Local 234's City Transit Division employees is set to expire on March 15, 2004. As can be expected, negotiations are expected to be rough. So, to say that the suits at 1234 Market would love to see dissention within the union is an understatement. Well, they may be getting their wish...
According to a flyer posted in plain sight at one of the El cashier booths, TWU Local 234 President Jean Alexander has reportedly been suspended from her position of the second time this year. Below is the text of the message (emphasis from the flyer):
Five months before our contract, the E-Board suspended the president for a second time.
The personal infighting between Jean Alexander and Tom Casey on the E-Board has once again made our local the laughing stock of the City.
We the members of the Local should have the right to know the reasoning for such disruptive action this close to our contract.
These along with many other questions should be asked at a Mass membership meeting.
Our members have the right to know what's going on instead of being spoon-fed information.
This infighting makes us weak and SEPTA management loves these theatric (sic). They are waiting at 1234 Market scratching their empty heads in anticipation of taking everything from us during contract talks in March 2004.
We as union members can not let this happen.
Let's send a clear message to our Union leaders that the priority is our membership not personal infighting between Jean and Casey.
CALL THE HALL AND DEMAND A MASS MEETING!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, things are going to get ugly over the next three months. Whether the ugliness is between the TWU and SEPTA or from within the TWU remains to be seen at this point. In the meantime, now may be a good time to invest in some decent pairs of walking shoes or other sneakers.