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Rail News: Passenger Rail

SEPTA, TWU resume negotiations; BLET, UTU challenge FRA's hours-of-service rule changes

On Saturday, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) announced it would continue to negotiate a contract with the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 234 without the threat of a work stoppage by the union.

The TWU, which had planned to launch a strike yesterday if an agreement wasn’t reached, agreed to return to the negotiating table after Pennsylvania Gov Ed Rendell, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Rep. Bob Brady (D-Pa.) intervened and convinced both parties to continue bargaining talks and avert a strike.

A five-year contract covering 4,700 operators and mechanics in SEPTA’s City Transit Division — which operates the Broad Street Subway, Market-Frankford Line and trolleys — expired on March 15.

Meanwhile, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and United Transportation Union (UTU) have jointly petitioned the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to reconsider portions of an interim statement on hours-of-service (HOS) rule changes.

The Rail Safety Improvement Act imposed the first significant amendments to HOS laws in about 40 years, and the FRA’s interim statement “poses significant problems for train and engine-service employees with regard to safety and earnings,” BLET and UTU officials said in a prepared statement.

The unions are asking the FRA to revisit its interpretation of how to determine whether a worker has received the mandated amount of off-duty time to permit 12-hour on-duty shifts that are permitted under the rail safety law.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/2/2009