You know it's getting down to crunch time when there are less than 10 days left in the current collective bargaining agreement between TWU Local 234 and SEPTA. This is usually the time of the negotiating period when rumors start to fly and confusion rules the day.
According to an early posting in the guestbook, there was a report that the TWU rank-and-file would meet for a mass membership meeting tomorrow night at the Sheetworkers Union Hall at Delaware Av and Washington Av in South Philadelphia. [Note that I'm not 100 percent certain of the actual location, but I did recall seeing a couple of flyers floating around the system (I think one was at Pattison Station) noting a "mass membership meeting" at that particular union hall. Hopefully, one of my South Philly correspondents can confirm (1) the correct name of the hall and (2) the actual location since my memory can be hit-and-miss at times.]
The initial report indicated that a strike authorization vote could take place at that time. It had appeared that the union was willing to extend the contract for a full year in order to allow both Harrisburg and Washington to get their acts together, thus making strike rumors moot. But...
Another posting in the guestbook reported that union leadership walked out of the negotiations shortly after 2:00pm Friday following an offer by SEPTA of a 2 percent raise in CFY 2005 and CFY 2007, with a $500.00 payout in lieu of a raise in CFY 2006.
(For clarification purposes, FY 2005 = 16 March 2004-15 March 2005, FY 2006 = 16 March 2005-15 March 2006; and FY 2007 = 16 March 2006-15 March 2007; these periods will be referred to as "Contract Fiscal Years" or "CFY" to avoid confusion with "Fiscal Year" proper - July 1-June 30 - throughout negotiations.)
So much for that goodwill between Fearless Leader and TWU 234 President Jean Alexander. I have a gut feeling that once the union gets wind of this proposal, talk of any extension in negotiations may head downhill.