Sunday, March 14, 2004


As of 7:00pm, negotiations between TWU 234 and SEPTA are ongoing at the Wyndham Philadelphia (nee Wyndham Franklin Plaza) Hotel in Center City. According to reports from KYW NewsRadio 1060's David Madden, TWU President Jean Alexander indicated that progress is being made on the health care issue. However, Alexander cautioned that if insufficent progress is being made by the time 12:01am rolls around, the union will go out on strike. The message was made very clear by the union: "Settle or strike." This is a contrast to past negotiations when the union was willing to extend the negotiations past the deadline regardless of the status of negotiations.

One sign that could be taken either as a forthcoming settlement or a forthcoming strike was the arrival of Harry Lombardo, former TWU 234 President and current TWU International Vice President for the union's Transit, Utility, University and Service Division. Lombardo arrived at the Wyndham shortly after 2:00pm. That was right about the time KYW began airing soundbites from Alexander.

Shortly after Lombardo's arrival, the press got the same spiel from SEPTA's Minster of Mis-Information Richard Maloney, who didn't directly address whether or not significant progress was being made in negotiations.

Given how ambivalent the union has been on the health care benefits issue, it wouldn't be at all surprising if either SEPTA is backpedalling on its demands that the union contribute towards their health care costs or if the union is lying. Meanwhile, with less than 5 hours to go until the contract expires, an entire city waits on pins and needles.

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