Thanks to the Center City traffic this morning, there was plenty of time to ponder what should be done about the strike by Transport Workers Union Local 234, which is largely the cause of all the Center City traffic this morning.
Here are some thoughts:
1) Mayor Nutter should get the buses, subways and trolleys running. I'm guessing there are plenty of people who would be willing to work for the current level of salary and benefits that SEPTA workers enjoy. Most could probably step into the positions without too much training, although developing the disdain toward customers that some transit workers have perfected might take a little longer.
2) As for the deal that SEPTA workers rejected -- described as "sensational" by Gov. Rendell in this morning's Inquirer article -- make it a little less sweet. For example, for each day of the strike, drop the proposed salary increase by 1 percent, increase the worker contribution for health benefits and pension by 3 percent, and cut the offered signing bonus by $400. Rendell was quoted as saying that union leaders rejected a $1,250 signing bonus, a 2.5 percent raise in the second year of the deal, and a 3 percent raise in each of the next three years. Not bad considering the economic times.
3) Unfortunately, there's probably no way to compensate the many commuters who are most affected by the strike. As U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah said in a statement, "The working men and women and their families in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia are the ones feeling the impact of today's transit system strike most severely ... They deserve better, and they deserve an immediate settlement." Amen. But even if they can't be compensated, let's charge the union for any costs the cash-strapped city incurs as a result of the strike.
4) Thanks to the many police officers who are out there trying to keep traffic moving.