ABOVE PHOTO: A Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) train moves across the yard at the Fern Rock Transportation Center in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
PHILADELPHIA — Members of the Philadelphia area’s largest transit workers union have ratified a new two-year contract that averted a potential walkout.
The Transport Workers Union Local 234 said Saturday that workers voted 1,450 to 631 Friday to ratify the contract with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
The agreement reached Oct. 29 averted a possible strike by the 5,000-member union that threatened to bring elevated trains, buses and trolleys to a halt and leave thousands of children and educators without a way to get to school next week.
The union says the contract includes 3% wage increases in each year and also provides a pandemic hazard bonus of $1 for each hour worked between March 15, 2020, and March 15, 2021 to a maximum amount of $2,200.
The union, which represents bus, trolley, and elevated train operators as well as mechanics and other staff, said the pact also includes two weeks of paid parental leave for both men and women upon the birth or adoption of a child.
Union leaders had asked for a four-year contract with annual wage increases and a pandemic payment.
SEPTA officials had asked for a two-year contract, or that pay increases in a four-year contract be contingent on the transit authority’s ability to pay them.
Authority leaders have said that it is losing nearly $1 million a day while ridership rebounds from the lockdowns and the pandemic.