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Philly Strike Blocks Dem Planners

July 1, 1998

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Democrats looking for a site for their national convention in 2000 high-tailed it out of town rather than face pickets in an acrimonious transit strike.

Members of the Democratic National Committee’s site-advisory group left hours after their arrival Tuesday afternoon for a three-day visit. But they promised they’d be back to check out the city once they wouldn’t have to run the risk of crossing picket lines.

``Obviously, as Democrats, every single member of the committee is a supporter of organized labor and believe in the principles of organized labor,″ said Joe Andrew, chairman of the group. ``The committee’s interest here is making sure that Philadelphia has as good a shot at this thing as any of the finalists.″

The DNC committee is visiting six other candidates _ Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and New Orleans _ for its national convention, which amounts to a $150 million windfall for the winner.

Philadelphia had three days of touring and selling planned: visits to Independence Hall and fancy restaurants, parades by police cruisers, fire trucks and the Mummers and the pitch itself.

But the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority and the Transport Workers Union Local 234 were in negotiations on Tuesday when talks suddenly went sour and union local president Steve Brookens stormed out of the negotiations. Some 200 workers marched down Market Street to set up pickets near Independence Hall, where the DNC group were to arrive for a tour at 5:30 p.m.

Mayor Edward G. Rendell said the committee had already decided to leave town.

``We don’t want them to have to decide who’s right and who’s wrong,″ said Rendell.

The strike started June 1 during the Republican site-selection committee visit, but the SEPTA strikers did not picket the Republicans.

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