Obama intervenes in Philadelphia transit strike

President  Obama agreed to intervene in a commuter rail strike in Philadelphia on Saturday, establishing an emergency board to work out disputes between the transit agency and labor unions.

More than 400 members of engineers and electricians unions went on strike against the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) on Friday night at midnight. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett asked Obama to step in.


Four hundred workers at a Philadelphia-area regional rail system went on strike Saturday morning, shutting down 13 train lines that carry commuters to the suburbs and Philadelphia International Airport. Subways, trolleys and buses operated by SEPTA will continue to run. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma, File)

Obama, who was in California on Saturday, signed an order that creates a three-member board effective on Saturday at midnight. Corbett had said an order would require workers to return to their jobs immediately and continue negotiations.

The board must report to Obama within 30 days, and no contract changes can be made without the consent of both parties for 120 days, according to the order.

The workers are seeking raises of 14.5 percent over five years, 3 percent more than what SEPTA offered. SEPTA has said it will take eight to 10 hours to restore service on the 13 lines that service Philadelphia and its suburbs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey after issuance of the order.

Katie Zezima covers the White House for Post Politics and The Fix.
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Katie Zezima · June 14