Author`s name Pravda.Ru

Negotiations break off - Philadelphia transit strike flares up

With a strike halting most of the city’s public transportation for a third day, negotiations between the region’s largest transit agency and its workers’ union broke off early Wednesday with no sign of progress.

Management and the union remain divided over health care co-pays and prescription drug coverage for future retirees, officials said.

Resolute, angry transit workers vowed Tuesday to remain on strike for months if necessary, a grim prospect for hundreds of thousands of riders forced to find other ways to get around.

Buses, subways and trolleys were idle as transit employees walked picket lines and settled in for what some predicted would be an extended work stoppage.

Contract talks between the transportation authority and the Transport Workers Union broke off Sunday night, and about 5,300 union members walked off the job for the first time since 1998.

The transportation authority said union leaders rejected a contract offer that would have required employees to pay 5 percent of their health insurance premiums. Veteran workers currently pay nothing. The offer also included a 9 percent pay increase over three years.

The union contended the management was trying to renege on a deal made years ago in which workers would get modest pay raises in exchange for free health care.

At the Frankford bus terminal in northeast Philadelphia, dozens of workers carried signs, grilled hot dogs and hamburgers and vented about the agency’s contract proposals, the AP reports.