Admittedly, before today, I've only reported the CTA's side of the "antiquated work rules" that President Forrest Claypool says must change in upcoming union negotiations.
So today it's the union's turn. Earlier this month, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 bought a full-page as in the Chicago Sun-Times to refute Claypool's examples of some of those work rules. (Here's a PDF of the ad.)
Here are some excerpts:
Forrest's claim: Union employees receive "extravagant" floating holidays.
The Facts: CTA currently awards the same floating holidays to its non-union, management employees who, unlike the operators, aren't required to run the system 365 days a year. And the CTA just added some generous benefits solely for non-union management employees, such as fully paid maternity and paternity leave - on top of the fully paid sick days that non-union management employees receive.
Forrest's claim: Employees get too many bathroom breaks.
The Facts: There are a few minutes built into the start of rail scheduled for operators to perform required safety checks before pulling the train out. It is just wrong to call this a "coffee break." Is the CTA really willing to compromise safety with its budget cuts? It's not only wrong to refuse to pay employees for safety checks, it's illegal!
Our message to you the riding public: Local 308, of course, will be doing everything we can to prevent our hard-working employees from being laid off. We absolutely want to preserve the level of service that you get now, and in fact add more service for you. We greatly regret that the head of the CTA is trying to use you, the riding public, as pawns.
....We believe that if the CTA and the unions work together we could come up with real solutions and in fact, we have offered innovative money-saving ideas to Forrest Claypool. Unfortunately, instead of talking to us, Mr. Claypool has chosen to try to turn the public against the employees, using a media campaign of unfounded and irresponsible accusations. That kind of finger pointing is not going to solve anything.
After the CTA board approved 2012 budget that included $160 million in union work-rule changes, Local 308 President Robert Kelly said he expects the CTA's plan to gain concessions to fail.
"To sit here and put that burden on our employees or pressure on me to get them that again is irresponsible, and quite frankly I don't think it's going to happen," said Kelly.
As I've said before, this will be interesting.
And in the end, I predict service cuts, and possibly fare increases. Although, I can't see Mayor Rahm Emanuel allowing a fare hike.