About 5,100 union workers for SEPTA went on strike early Tuesday, leaving 450,000 people to find new ways to travel. The union is demanding a 4% raise and an increase in their pension’s contributions.
The union President, Willie Brown, said “I hope the public understands this is not only a fight for us, it’s a fight for working class people.” However, it is doubtful the “working class” who awoke yesterday morning unable to get to work because no warning was given before the strike, would agree. The average SEPTA union employee earns $52,000 per year, over a quarter more than the average annual salary for all Philadelphia workers.
Lower income workers who have no other means of transportation are effected worse by these strikes. Union picketers were compounding the already bad situation this morning by blocking bus stations that were still operating.
SEPTA is expecting to have a $120 million deficit next year, and the pension plan is already unaffordable for taxpayers. The increased salaries the union workers desire come largely off of taxpayer’s back. Economists have shown widespread unionization slows down the recovery of the economy and decreases the number of jobs available. With Philadelphia’s unemployment rate 5.8% higher than the national average, SEPTA employees need a reality check.