Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

Thank you, Mr. President. Today I introduced a resolution co-sponsored by Councilwoman Brown and signed by every member of this body honoring Ronald P. Jones, the SEPTA officer for his service and bravery in apprehending a violent assailant in the Fairmount Train Station last week. I also introduced a similar resolution honoring a private citizen named Tameka Bates who defended a mother and child on that same subway by the same gentleman threatening to kill passengers for her brave and courageous stance to protect that other rider.

I rise today to cite the fact that in 2012 the American public transportation association named SEPTA, the best large transit system in America, even exceeding Denver, who has long been touted as such, beyond getting thousands of riders, commuters from Point A to Point B in the region, we depend on the drivers, the rail operators of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority for our wealth and our economy.

Our transit system has increased ridership to record levels. Gas has gone up to $3.61, and transit offers a viable alternative to many people going to work. In FY12, ridership and revenues increased by 1.7 percent due to the increase of people taking advantage of our system. This is due to a healthy relationship between management and labor.

We went through a bad winter that threatened retail's bottom line. A potential SEPTA strike would impact us to the tune, according to Econsult, of about $50 million. That's the impact in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

State Representative Harper introduced House Bill 2109 which calls for mass transit workers to not be able to strike, to not be able to have a work stoppage. Now, whether you support that or not, if you're saying that you support that, we have to have ongoing dialogue, ongoing resolution, and even arbitration. And we've asked members in Council, and thus far we have a vast majority of them willing to sign on and call for SEPTA and TWU to enter into an arbitration to avoid a work stoppage. Now, according to the TWU membership, they'd be willing to do that. We're calling on SEPTA management to also do that.

There are 5,348 members that are a part of that local, and many of them are our neighbors, friends, and even in the case of Councilwoman Bass, a sister, and they do the work that we cannot do. They face sometimes grateful ridership and sometimes not so grateful ridership. They face physical threats and abuse. They face people spitting on them and taking advantage of the fact that they are not allowed to strike them, curse them back. The least we can do is get them, like we've done in these Chambers for other members of labor unions, fight for them to have a fair contract and a living wage.

What we're doing here and what we've continued to do under your leadership, Mr. President, is fight for the maintenance of the middle class. Whether we are lowering taxes, whether we're raising the minimum wage, Councilman Goode, or whether we're trying to get sick leave passed, whether we're fighting for firemen to get their fair due or municipal workers like 47 and 33, this continues that tradition of maintaining Philadelphia's middle class.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech