Court Denies Injunction to End Philly Transit Strike Before Election Day

DigitalVision/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) —  The largest city in the battleground state of Pennsylvania may have no mass transit running on Election Day.

Philadelphia transit workers remain on strike, after a judge in state court on Friday evening declined the transit agency’s request to issue an injunction to force an end to the work stoppage for Election Day.

But the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA, will have another chance to press its case for the injunction when the hearing resumes Monday.

Pennsylvania is a battleground state, and Philadelphia, the state’s largest city, votes overwhelmingly Democratic.

The transit agency has said that Philadelphia’s elderly, disabled and ill are most at risk from the loss of subway, bus and trolley services during the strike.

“We are not going to lie down while they can’t resolve this strike, and just watch our passengers suffer. Not going to do it,” Gino Benedetti, a lawyer for SEPTA, told ABC News’ affiliate 6-Action News.

But Jamie Horwitz, a spokesman for the Transportation Workers Union Local 234 has told ABC News that the union does not expect the strike to affect voter turnout in the city.

“Our members are really solid; nothing is moving in this city,” he said of the workers’ unity and the strike’s effect on bus, subway and trolley transportation.

 Horwitz told ABC News that while talks have progressed between SEPTA and the union, no agreement has been reached.

“There’s been movement on all issues, but there’s no tentative agreement on anything,” Horwitz said.

Horwitz said the primary disagreements between the two sides focused on the scheduling of workers, who he said were frequently not given adequate time to eat, rest between shifts or take bathroom breaks.

In addition to the issues over scheduling, the union is fighting on issues over pensions and health care. The strike began at midnight Oct. 31.

Megan Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Republican Party, told ABC News last week that its staffers are monitoring the transportation strike but haven’t taken any specific actions yet to accommodate voters who might be hindered by it.

 “We always have a really aggressive plan to make sure people get to the polls, and we always have contingency plans,” she said, adding that she believed that enthusiasm for Donald Trump in the traditionally Democratic-leaning city appeared “very strong.”

ABC News has reached out to the Pennsylvania Democratic Party but has not received a response.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf urged both sides to keep a dialogue open until an agreement can be reached.

“Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania residents rely on SEPTA to travel each day to and from work and school, and the inability of TWU and SEPTA to reach an agreement is devastating for many of these individuals and their families,” Wolf said in a statement last week. “This will create extreme hardships for the city and for businesses.”

The most recent previous strike by the union, in November 2009, lasted six days before being resolved.

Vice President Joe Biden campaigned for Clinton in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, and stressed the importance of the state to the Democrats retaining the White House.

“If we win Pennsylvania, we win this election,” Biden said.

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