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SEPTA regional rail train
Engineers and electrical workers in the Philadelphia-area Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority's regional rail system went on strike early Saturday morning after long-running negotiations failed to reach a deal. The workers have been working under the terms of a contract that expired several years ago; this week, SEPTA announced it would impose its own terms on the workers, leading them to strike.
The strike shut down 13 Regional Rail lines that provide 60,000 passengers with 126,000 rides on a typical weekday. That promised to snarl already clogged highways with additional cars and to hamper commuters and their employers throughout the region.

Service on SEPTA's buses, subways, trolleys and the Norristown High-Speed Line - which carry about 85 percent of SEPTA's riders - were not affected.

SEPTA officials are telling the press how very sad they are that it came to this, but here's a key piece of information in assessing those claims:
"We gave it the best effort we could," [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen vice president Stephen] Bruno said after talks ended. "A resolution was available - binding arbitration is a viable option."

Both the BLET and IBEW Local 744 offered to submit their labor dispute to binding arbitration. SEPTA declined arbitration, saying it believed it could get better terms through negotiation.

Gov. Tom Corbett could ask President Obama to intervene, preventing a strike for up to 240 days.

9:18 PM PT (Barbara Morrill): A statement was released by the White House on Saturday night:

Today, pursuant to the Railway Labor Act, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order creating a Presidential Emergency Board to help resolve an ongoing dispute between the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and some of its employees.

The Presidential Emergency Board will provide a structure for the two sides to resolve their disagreements.  The Presidential Emergency Board will hear evidence and, within 30 days, will deliver a report to the President recommending how the dispute should be resolved.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 08:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by Philly Kos, DKos Pennsylvania, and Daily Kos.

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