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TWU Local 234 threatening strike raises safety concerns after SEPTA bus driver fatally shot

SEPTA union threatening strike raises safety concerns after driver fatally shot
SEPTA union threatening strike raises safety concerns after driver fatally shot 01:56

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The clock is running out for SEPTA and the Transport Workers Union Local 234 to reach an agreement on a new contract before the midnight deadline on Halloween. Local 234 has authorized a strike, set for Nov. 1, which would leave tens of thousands of people without a ride in the city.

Members of TWU Local 234 said the shooting death of an on-duty bus driver Thursday is proof their safety concerns are not being addressed.

Both sides are negotiating at the Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District. There are no updates to report as of Friday morning. TWU Local 234 will strike on Nov. 1 if no agreement is reached by the time their contract with SEPTA expires at 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 31.

Gribbin was shot shortly before 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Germantown and Abbotsford Avenues in Philadelphia's Germantown neighborhood. He was on his route, driving the Route 23 bus when police claimed a passenger got up shot him, got off the bus and shot him again.

Police took a woman matching the description of the alleged shooter into custody at a gas station shortly after.

TWU Local 234 members said SEPTA needs to improve safety not just for operators but passengers as well.

"Our life is a life. We've got to go home to our family," one bus driver said Thursday night, "and it's unfortunate that we lose one of our coworkers to violence that we've been talking about."

"The guy got killed today, he didn't have no protection," another bus driver said. "He didn't stand a chance at all. Safety is a big point, that's what we really want."

Both bus drivers said one thing SEPTA could do to make it safer for them is to put up bulletproof glass up instead of acrylic barriers.

The union says drivers can make a lot more money and may be safer using their commercial driver's license driving a truck or delivery van.  

SEPTA declined to comment on the contract negotiations, saying it is dealing with Gribbin's death.

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