SEPTA bus members ratify new contract

December 8, 2023

Bus Department Vice President James Sandoval and General Chairperson Anthony Petty stand with the rest of the SMART-TD negotiating team.

Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, has been known for being anything but loving when it comes to wage increases and quality of life benefits for its transportation professionals. First-year General Chairperson Anthony Petty of SMART-TD’s SPT General Committee announced the ratification by membership of a new one-year agreement that changes that for the better.

The agreement ratified includes both a 7% raise in base pay and a $3,000 bonus for our SMART-TD members working to provide SEPTA’s bus service. Petty and his general committee also brokered a deal increasing the carrier’s contribution to employee retirement funds by 5% in addition to the 7% raise in pay.

Not only will these members be receiving these financial benefits, but Petty and his committee of Bruce Cheatham, Wayne Vincent and Jeaneen Hand, along with new Bus Department’ Vice President James Sandoval, also negotiated for substantial gains in time off and quality-of-life for their brothers and sisters.

Standard practice at SEPTA for the past two decades has been that our members have worked six days a week at all times. In this new agreement, members will only be drafted (forced to work a sixth day in the week) once per month. They can take two days off per week for the remainder of the month. If they elect to do so, they will be allowed to volunteer to work a sixth day whenever they want, but the power to decide is now in the hands of each individual member.

Yet another quality-of-life improvement in this contract is that the extra board will now be divided into an a.m. list and a p.m. list so our members are only responsible for covering the work for 12 hours each day. They won’t be expected to cover shifts outside of their coverage times. For the first time at SEPTA, employees on the extra list will have a far better understanding of when they can expect to go to work. This will go a long way towards helping to balance work and homelife for our men and women and create some consistency for them.

In another new and creative addition to the agreement, Petty and his team got SEPTA to agree to a unique dialogue centering around the ongoing problem with assaults against our members. On December 19, SEPTA’s General Manager Leslie Richards will attend a town hall meeting held by union leaders to discuss the rise in violence our members deal with on the job.

As part of the agreement, SEPTA management will meet quarterly in an open forum with the union to discuss the scenario surrounding every assault that has taken place on SEPTA property since the prior meeting and to tell us what steps SEPTA will take to prevent similar incidents in the future. They will also listen to our members’ ideas on assault reduction and take questions from attendees.

This agreement is the product of aggressive and creative thinking on behalf of Petty, Sandoval and the General Committee.

Petty said that his team’s cohesion made the difference in getting the job done and done quickly at the bargaining table in the six months negotiations with the carrier were open.

“My committee of Vice Chair Wayne Benson, Jeaneen Hand and Bruce Cheatham along with SMART-TD Vice President James Sandoval had put so much work in on this before negotiations started that once it got going, they could sense our confidence,” he said. “They could see we were all on the same page. We were prepared to justify everything we asked for and they knew it. All in all, the negotiation only took four days.

“They knew we weren’t backing down, and in the end, we are proud of the agreement we brought back to our membership. I want to thank Vice President Sandoval. James has been working on this agreement with me since the day I met him. He was with us every step of the way, and we all appreciate his commitment to getting everything we could get to better the lives of our SEPTA members.”

SMART-TD as an organization congratulates the SPT General Committee on the remarkable work done to achieve this agreement for SEPTA members.

Senior Vice President of the Bus Department, Alvy Hughes pointed out that this was the first agreement negotiated by GC Petty and for VP Sandoval in his new role as a SMART-TD vice president.

Hughes wants all members of SMART to know that they did a great job, and that he is very proud of the effort they put in and what they accomplished for our men and women.