Philadelphia officials negotiated an end to a nearly week long transit strike with the help of the mayor, the governor, and the local congressman. Austin’s labor woes had a state senator/former mayor involved but no one of higher profile. In Philly, the union had the World Series as a leverage point-a strike while the Series was in town would have been even more noticeable than this one was, and it made national news. The death of a transit worker (not from strike violence but perhaps the pressure on the system connected to the strike) only adds to the strike’s impact.
I don’t have stats handy on transit labor strikes but they do seem frequent in major systems. Perhaps the American Public Transportation Asssociation could bring national union reps and heads of transit systems together to sort out the issues. At this point, anything that could possibly discourage someone from riding transit should be examined closely.