No daily Viagra dose, no peace! Philly transit workers rise up in protest

The striking union of transit workers in Philadelphia are angry that they're not getting daily doses of Viagra. And amazingly, their bosses apparently caved on their demands after the union turned down a generous offer -- and threatened to embarrass the city during the World Series.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has agreed to cover almost all of its rising health-care costs, and to increase coverage for Pfizer's (PFE) Viagra and other erectile dysfunction treatments, the Philadelphia Daily News reports. Workers are unhappy that their health insurance plan only covers about 10 pills a month.
With the exception of Playboy (PLA) founder Hugh Hefner -- who must be buying his little blue pills wholesale -- most patients are prescribed a hand full of erectile dysfunction pills at a time. Doctors -- legitimate ones, with offices and licenses -- know that these pills are almost as popular on the Internet as Paris Hilton's sex tape, and most don't encourage patients to make a few extra bucks by dealing it.

Many customers do deal it, of course. In 2006, a SEPTA employee was caught trying to illegally obtain nearly 40 Viagra prescriptions. This new benefit will no doubt renew that entrepreneurial spirit among some employees.

The Viagra issue may seem silly, but the SEPTA strike is not. The authority serves a metropolitan region with 325 million riders a year. Fiscal 2009 revenue was $456.6 million. Like many public transit services, it's pretty lousy, but it's a vital link for residents throughout the Philadelphia area, and the strike has paralyzed the Delaware Valley for four days.

Last night, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Rep. Bob Brady announced a tentative agreement in the four-day old strike. It's a sweet deal. The five-year pact would provide for a $1,250 bonus upon ratification -- which may come tonight -- a 2.5% raise in the second year, and a 3% raise in each of the final three years. Workers' health-insurance contributions will remain at 1% of base pay, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Given the terms granted to the pharmaceutically emboldened employees, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Karen Heller dryly noted that commuters should be worried that "every bus, trolley, and subway route has the potential to turn into an express, particularly during those problematic four-hour peaks in service." ¡Viva Viagra!

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