PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- The six-day strike by Philadelphia-area transportation workers will likely continue after negotiations broke down during the weekend, observers say.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell on Saturday blamed the leadership of Transport Workers Union Local 234 for the breakdown of talks to end the strike against the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The newspaper said Rendell demanded a rank-and-file membership vote on a proposed contract settlement, which union leadership dismissed because its executive committee had rejected the offer.
"We're not going to take it to a vote," Local 234 president Willie Brown told the Inquirer. "For the same reason the president of the United States would not bypass Congress and go directly to the people."
Smith reportedly said Rendell's demand was merely an effort to divide the union.
But Rendell told reporters Saturday that the union made new demands after a handshake agreement was announced Friday, including a call for an independent audit of the SEPTA pension plan, which the union contends is underfunded and mismanaged.