SEPTA workers potentially banned from striking under Harper bill

Pennsylvania State Rep. Kate Harper (R-61) recently reintroduced a bill to prevent employees of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority from going on strike.

The legislation - H.B. 2109, which was referred to the state House Labor and Industry Committee - comes just after the expiration of a major union contract with Transport Workers Union Local 234, which accounts for approximately half of SEPTA's workforce.

Under the proposed bill, SEPTA workers would be banned from striking, joining other public employees, including court workers and guards at prisons and mental facilities. If passed, the legislation would allow the transit authority to obtain a court injunction if SEPTA workers did go on strike.

Harper originally introduced the measure in 2009 after a six-day strike that started at 3 a.m. led to interruptions in public transport services. The bill, however, did not make it out of committee onto the House floor.

"The mass transit system is absolutely vital to the Philadelphia region, and to the millions of people who rely upon it to get to and from work, school, appointments and errands every day," Harper said. "We simply cannot afford a repeat of the 2009 strike, which occurred with no notice and left people stranded. It crippled the city, and quite frankly, the customers deserve better."