They say desperate times call for desperate measures.
As a strike by city transit workers entered its fourth day Friday, SEPTA management headed to court to force members of Transit Workers Union (TWU) Local 234 immediately back to work, calling the strike "a clear and present danger to the health, safety and welfare of our riders and the citizens of Philadelphia and the region."
But within hours TWU Local 234 leadership responded that they think the strike can be resolved through negotiation, as both parties are scheduled to return to the bargaining table at 6 p.m.
TWU Local 234 president Willie Brown said "only a handful of issues" are holding up the strike.
"The fact remains that our union caught SEPTA management with their hands in the cookie jar, rewarding themselves with pension increases averaging $500 a month," he said. "It appears that SEPTA’s plan all along was to avoid real bargaining while relying on legal tricks."
In a statement, SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said going to court is necessary "to alleviate the devastation caused by the strike."
"The strike has caused people to miss critical medical appointments; is making it impossible for some disabled residents to get to facilities for specialty care, get assistance with fundamental life-care matters and training critical to their efforts towards independence; is causing students to miss school; and presents a risk to citizens’ right to vote in the Nov. 8 election," Busch continued.
Court papers released by SEPTA include a demand that the union be prevented from "continuing to strike or withhold services as employees of SEPTA or otherwise engaging in any form of work stoppage."
Brown pledged to fight the move.
“We will fight SEPTA’s request for an injunction tooth and nail. We would prefer, however, to concentrate our attention on productive bargaining to reach a fair settlement," the TWU Local 234 president said. “We are committed to bargaining a new agreement as soon as possible. That will happen at the bargaining table — not by rushing into court in a pointless attempt to restrict workers’ rights.”