CTA's examples of "antiquated" union work rules

The CTA listed eight examples of what it calls "antiquated" work rules in the press release announcing its proposed budget Wednesday. In reading them, some seem just silly. The unions may have a rough time explaining why any of these should be kept. But I welcome union officials or members to comment or email me and tell me your side. (NOTE: In comments, some CTA employees have responded, so read them.)

The following is copied from the release.

"Antiquated work rules cost the agency tens upon tens of millions of dollars, encouraging absenteeism, unnecessary overtime, and layers of redundant costs required to manage around the cumbersome and inflexible mandates. Among the examples:

  • Bus and rail operators who lose their licenses to drunken driving convictions can’t drive, but they remain on the payroll for six months while they try to get their licenses back.
  • Employees are paid for birthdays and anniversaries of employment, and earn two and one-half times pay if they choose to work on those days.
  • Tasks performed by one tradesperson in the private sector, such as a brake check or AC change out, require three at the CTA.
  • Crafts employees must be chauffeured to the start of their shift.
  • A rail operator can drive a train from 95th Street on the South Side to the Skokie Yards on the North Side, but must stop a few hundred feet from the maintenance barn to allow a switchman to drive the remaining distance.
  • A trackman or carpenter using a chain saw cannot replace a blade without summoning a tradesman from another union.
  • A series of complex work rules and mandates guarantee tens of millions of dollars in payments annually for time in which no work is actually performed.
  • Collective bargaining agreements effectively prevent dismissal of chronically absent employees, forcing $40 million in annual overtime and "extra board" costs.

Comments

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  • I'll try to address each point to the best of my knowledge. I work for the CTA as a tradesmen.

    #1 N/A to me

    #2 Craft employees receive 4 holidays a year to use as they see fit. There are no sick days or anything like that. If you don't use them you lose them.I never have had the option of working these holidays and receiving pay for them as well.

    #3 A brake check on a train can get very complicated.A brake check requires an electrician to operate the train and machinists to physically check brake function. Electrical and mechanical systems each require their own set of troubleshooting skills. The AC changeout also employs carpenters to remove the unit from the train. In the shop these trades work together very well.

    #4 I don't understand this one. If a craft worker needs to go out to a terminal from their normal work location they have to drive a CTA vehicle to that location. You have to bring everything with you that you might need to do the job. Some jobs require special equipment that a terminal may not have.

    #5 Don't really know about this one. Rail yards are very complicated to maneuver. Could be a problem without specific knowledge of that particular yard.

    #6 That does seem dumb although I don't have experience with this process.

    #7 Seems like some sort of catch all statement. I don't know what they are talking about. I never have received pay for not coming in and doing my job.

    #8 There is thing called progressive discipline in the crafts and you will definitely be taken to task for attendance problems and you will be suspended and or fired if you can't get to work on time or miss too many days.
    I would like to say more but, I have to get to work. I don't want to be late.

  • "A series of complex work rules"

    God only knows what that means, but 1 thing I believe it refers to is the fact that bus operators get 15 minutes between when they check for their runs, until they are pulling out of the garage. Well, I usually check 30 minutes before I have to pull out, because I know that finding my bus, isn't always that easy, and expecting the 1st bus you are assigned to actually work, is not a smart thing to do, even with 30 minutes, I often just barely make it out of the garage on time. So if transit geniuses like Claypool think that 15 minutes should be taken away, well, buses are going to be late a lot, I guarantee it.

  • Assuming you really are a CTA employee, as you state, what if any concessions would you be willing to make? Honest question, no trap or gotcha intended. I say this as a carless CTA user who would be willing to pay more for my full-priced monthly fare card--even 10%-15% more.

  • In reply to vise77:

    Good question Vise. I too am willing to pay a little more, but we should all have skin in the game. CTA non-union employees are ponying up. Riders should and so should union employees.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Of course (1) Riders were more than willing to accept Quinn's shell game (as described in my prior post) to buy their votes on the basis that fares would not go up in 2010. (2) I remember correctly that vise77 was the one who assumed that everyone had a smart phone or office computer near the bus stop, so I don't know why he is complaining about other people making socio-economic generalizations. (3) Union members are not going to make concessions before bargaining even begins. (4) If Claypool is so concerned about people being paid for not doing their jobs, maybe he should consider his $192K and $175K paid to the board; it won't save $170 million, but every penny counts.

  • In reply to jack:

    "(2) I remember correctly that vise77 was the one who assumed that everyone had a smart phone or office computer near the bus stop, so I don't know why he is complaining about other people making socio-economic generalizations. "

    No, you are wrong. I never assume in real life, so why would I do it here?

    I think you and others would be much better served if you would adopt a constant skeptical attitude, one that is hard and has good BS detector but loses all the cheap assumptions and cynicism.

  • In reply to vise77:

    So, I'll be skeptical. What was the point of all your repeated posts in the "Bus Tracker signs on Bus Shelters" thread, other than that it might have been a sweetheart contract, about smart phones, texting, and office computers, especially when I pointed out that not all bus riders have that capability? If it wasn't just to dog Scooter, you tell us.

  • In reply to jack:

    "What was the point of all your repeated posts in the "Bus Tracker signs on Bus Shelters" thread, other than that it might have been a sweetheart contract, about smart phones, texting, and office computers, especially when I pointed out that not all bus riders have that capability?"

    Are you sure you are talking about me? My memory is not what it used to be, to be certain, and with the slowness of this site over the past few days, I can't find the comments to which you refer. But I think you may have me mistaken for someone else. If I am wrong--and that happens often--then, as the kids say, 'My Bad.'

    In any case, I was taught by crusty reporters and editors a long time ago--crustier and more crusading than you are on this blog--that cynicism and assumption are the enemies of healthy, hard skepticism. Take it or leave it, but I'm just throwing it out there as we all face yet another round of CTA funding and political issues, with amble BS and spin incoming from all sides.

  • In reply to vise77:

    I had Googled vise77 before posting that, but clicking back a couple of months indicates that it was darkwing, so I apologize.

  • In reply to jack:

    No worries, and thanks.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, you're thinking of Darkwing.

  • I would be willing to give up the birthday and anniversary benefits, and be willing to give up the pay for time suspended out with a DUI. I didn't even know that one existed, and I'm pretty shocked by it to be honest. Although being as that this information came from CTA, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a bit fabricated. In the past CTA management lied to the people of Chicago to get them against CTA employees so it's certainly possible here. I remember maybe 2 years ago where they told the newspapers that the AVERAGE operator hourly pay was something like $32/hr, when TOP PAY was only about $28. Last I checked you don't find averages by taking the top number then adding 4 to it.

  • Thanks for the comment Vise77. I need to know exactly what the CTA's offer is before I am going to say what I'll be willing to give up. This will be settled during negotiations. The public will then learn the details. Hopefully we will come to an agreement that will be fair and equitable for both sides and gives the public some relief that they won't have to hear about another Doomsday type event that we seem to go through every year. Our riders deserve better.

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