Philadelphians are eager for the transit strike to end, so it's not surprising that some media outlets have featured quotes from Gov. Ed Rendell and Rep. Bob Brady saying a settlement may be near. However, I think it's risky to be too optimistic. To settle this strike, SEPTA and the union will have to find some common ground. And, as far as we know, that hasn't happened yet.
Below is a quote from a FOX 29 story entitled “Deal to End SEPTA Strike in The Works.” It gives the impression that deal has basically been worked out.
Late Friday night, Gov. Ed Rendell and Congressman Bob Brady announced they may have an agreement between SEPTA and Transport Workers Union 234.
The proposal has been tweaked a little bit. The union is getting a little more of what it was looking for, with an 11.5-percent raise over a five-year period and a higher pay hike coming in the first year, as well as some compromise on some non-monetary issues.
If things go well, this may be the last day commuters have to worry about how they're getting to and from work or school.
Look, it's understandable that people want to believe Rendell and Brady. I'm sure they're doing everything they can to settle the strike. However, let's remember that part of the reason that people were so surprised about the strike was because Nutter, Brady, and Rendell basically said that a strike was off the table late last week. That turned out to be wrong, and so could the current rumors of a deal. If you look at what Rendell actually said, it's clear that a quick end to the strike is far from certain:
"The union is reviewing overnight the offer that was faxed to them by SEPTA as a result of our conversations and conversations the congressman had with the union. And they're going to review it tonight and take it to their executive board in the morning. And hopefully – and I say hopefully, not assuredly, hopefully – we'll have an agreement during the day tomorrow that will allow the trains and buses to be running by rush hour tomorrow night," Rendell said, referring to Friday night.
The truth is, there won't be a settlement to the strike until the two parties sit down and hammer out a deal. And as far as we know, the two sides haven't even been in the same room together since the strike began. Getting them to sit down together would be a real sign of progress, as opposed to statements by third-party negotiators.