It's been another strange week for CTA news, highlighted by increasingly strained relations between the CTA and its two operator unions, Amalgamated Transit Union Locals 241 (bus operators) and 308 (rail operators).
Let's do a recap and rewind by 10 days to the Friday before the cuts went into effect on Sunday, Feb. 7.
Friday, Feb. 5: Daley's last-ditch effort to avoid service cuts fails. And the president of the rail workers union said he hoped the cuts would be reversed "in seven to 10 days." Ha!
Saturday, Feb. 6: It's the last day of work for more than a thousand operators, who will be laid off on Feb. 7. A union official predicts it's going to be "horrific" for CTA customers. Well, duh!
Sunday, Feb. 7: Cuts day. No, I won't go as far as calling it Doomsday. It's Sunday, so the real pain won't be felt till the first work day on Monday. But people still wait longer.
Monday, Feb. 8: First day of service cuts. People do get to work and run their errands, albeit a little more slowly. Unions are digging in their heels: "I can tell you we don't give up nothing without getting something. That's negotiating." -- Robert Kelly, president of the CTA's rail union. The Tattler suggests prospects are dim for reversal of cuts.
Tuesday, Feb. 9: Reports on the effects of the cuts vary from no change to terrible and "it sucks." Of course, the first big snow of the year didn't help matters.
Wednesday, Feb. 10: We see reports on comparing what the CTA wants from the unions and what the unions might be willing to give. Big difference between the two. Especially since the unions want to give back savings from future wage increases that haven't even been negotiated yet. Now I truly wonder what the union leaders are smoking.
Thursday, Feb. 11: In a brief respite from service-cut news, we report that the CTA board Wednesday OK'ed a bond issue for $505 million to buy 406 new rail cars.
Friday, Feb. 12: We got some hopeful news
that a House committee had voted to repeal free rides for all senior
citizens and institute means testing instead. We needed that.
Saturday, Feb. 13: But Friday's small ray of possible CTA sunshine was blotted out by union threats
to drive more slowly and follow rules to the letter if the CTA doesn't
"negotiate fairly." You have got to be kidding me. Wendy said it best
in a comment:
"Telling the public you're going to increase their suffering as a
bargaining position is a bad move and will gain you nothing in public
support. With all the anti-union sentiment right now, not a good move."
Sunday, Feb. 14: The next meeting -- and first since the cuts -- between the CTA and unions is scheduled for Wednesday. And WBBM News Radio 780 reports
that bus operators union president Darrell Jefferson says he will
continue to reject a proposal that would reduce salaries. So, why even
waste the time?
Yes, what a long, strange trip it's been. And will continue to be on CTA trains and buses, at least for awhile at this rate.