CTA job cuts, changes in leave benefits set tone for expected union givebacks

The CTA appeared to be setting the stage - and the tone - for upcoming union negotiations in its Monday announcement of 200 jobs cut and reduction of some some vacation and sick pay benefits.

About 200 total jobs have been eliminated since July, with two-thirds of the newest cuts coming from filled positions. Many of the prior cuts announces - that are included in the 200 total - came from eliminating vacant jobs, according to a CTA press release.

To me the most telling stat from the press release is:

  • "CTA now has the smallest number of employees in its history, with 25 percent fewer employees than a decade ago."

Now mind you, there have been services resulting in 1,000 union drivers and motorman being laid-off, but it's still astounding, and a step in the right direction.

With union agreements expiring at the end of the year, the CTA certainly looks to be setting some expectations for reduced benefits for union members in announcing a new package for non-union workers that will save the agency about $15 million over the next six years.

Here are details on the changes in sick and holiday leave policies, as quoted from the release:

  • Elimination for non-bargained employees of the floating holiday policy and birthday and anniversary days off. This will end the decades-old practice of granting employees days off on their birthday and employment date anniversary. Instead, employees will be allowed four paid personal days each year compared to the current six floating holidays allowed.
  • Non-bargained employees will accrue sick time at a rate of one half (1/2) a day a pay period and will be able to earn up to 13 sick days per year with a maximum accrual of sick time of twenty-six (26) days. This replaces a policy of six-months of sick leave for all non-bargained employees.
  • Female employees will be eligible to receive four (4) weeks of fully paid leave after giving birth, while domestic/civil union partners and spouses will be eligible to receive two (2) weeks of fully paid leave after the birth of a child.  Adoptive parents will be eligible to receive two (2) weeks of fully paid leave after the birth and/or placement of an adopted child.
  • Non-bargained employees will accrue vacation leave on an on-going basis at a rate based on years of service. Non-bargained employees’ vacation allowance will be capped at twenty-five (25) days of vacation compared to the current maximum of 35 days.
  • Pay for unused vacation days following separation from the agency will be capped at 25 days after December 31, 2012. Previously, non-bargained employees could be paid for up to 88 days.
  • Employees will no longer be able to buy back unused vacation days.

The release ended with President Forrest Claypool nodding to the upcoming labor negotiations:

“I also look forward to working with our labor leaders to find common sense, rational and fair solutions that reduce our labor costs while providing stable employment for their members. It is time for everyone to step up so we can put CTA on solid financial ground.”

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  • These seem like good changes for the financial health of the CTA. I expect this will cause people to start using some old days off that could expire or that they might not get paid for if they retire.

    Amazing if the stat of smallest number of employees in its history is accurate.

  • In reply to chris:

    That's actually not uncommon for municipal governments nowadays -- head count is at historic lows, but pay and benefits are at all-time highs, both as inflation-adjusted totals and as a percentage of the budget.

    Unfortunately, there's not much room to give before customer service suffers: a bus driver might be making twice as much as her historic counterpart, but she can't drive her route twice as fast.

  • However, Gump must think that he can negotiate through the media, instead of either across the table from the union or convince an arbitrator. Sorry, buddy, it doesn't work that way.

    He might be able to impose stuff on the exempt staff unilaterally*, but as I said in the last sentence.....

    BTW, have the staff decreases included the PR staff? I don't think so.
    _______
    *According to the last schedule, the CTA Board doesn't meet until Thursday, but apparently they are eunuchs.

  • I understand that Claypool rivals Huberman for the excessive number of new exempt jobs he created and the number of cohorts he brought over to CTA. He doesn't mention all the new positions when he talks about what he is cutting. Maybe someone should FOIA a list of new hires since Claypool started and how many promotions some have had since they were hired.

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