Well, we’re coming to the end of the first work week sans SEPTA (Stupid, Elementary Poltroon, Tiptoeing in Apathy). Thankfully, I don’t have any problems getting to work, but I have been a prisoner of West Philly for the last five days. Yeah, yeah, I could walk or take a cab, but that’s not the point.
I really am trying to feel sympathetic toward the union workers. While it seems absurd that they don’t want to pay a percentage of their healthcare benefits, it does seem very unfair that SEPTA management would not have to do the same.
But they are not even trying!! They broke off negotiations on Tuesday night and haven’t talked since. According to Philly.com, the talks have lasted a whopping 2.5 hours since the strike began on Monday at 12:01 AM. And if this keeps up, SEPTA is in serious danger of losing additional state funding that it sorely needs.
And regardless of whether you want to blame the unions or the management, the top or the bottom, it’s still SEPTA’s fault.
All of this seems so childish in comparison to what’s going on with Philadelphia’s firefighters and paramedics, who are also trying to negotiate a new contract. Consider this excerpt from an article Monday in the Philadelphia Daily News:
Philadelphia paramedics make roughly $50,000, 10 percent more than the $45,000 paid to firefighters. Plus, they average an additional $20,000 to $30,000 in overtime, but more than one-third of them want to transfer to the lower-paying firefighter’s job.
The Fire Department made 255,000 runs in 2004, and 200,000 of them were medical and not fires. We have under 300 paramedics, meaning we’re already short at least 50, and 106 of them have applied to get out and become firefighters.”
The paramedics and firefighters are asking for:
• Creation of a stress-relief program to deal with the widespread “burnout” problem that drives the average paramedic out after seven or eight years, well short of qualifying for a 10-year pension. A union consultant said stress levels among local paramedics resemble “what you would see coming out of Vietnam.”
• An agreement to allow paramedics, who work two 10-hour and two 14-hour days a week, time to eat lunch or dinner. There are no scheduled meal breaks at present, the union says.
• The provision of a second radio to each two-member Emergency Medical System team. At present, only one team member has a radio, a situation the union calls dangerous.
• A redeployment plan that would enable paramedics to rotate periodically from rescue vehicles to fire trucks, where they would work for a time as firefighters.
While half the city’s bus drivers won’t even hang up their cell phones on the job, our paramedics have to beg for time to eat!! Consider that, you SEPTA monkeys!
–Day 5 of strike, with no end in sight [Philly.com]
–Rendell: SEPTA strike hurts funding [Inky]
–Analysis: A Few Words About This SEPTA Thing [Philebrity]
–Return to Sender: Stranded in the City [Phillyist]
–Paramedics look for stress relief [PDN]