News pickup: CTA hearing Tuesday on decrowding plan; two charged in Red Line robberies

Here are some CTA news items to start your week.

Public hearing on plans to reduce bus, rail crowding. You might want to arrive early for the 6 p.m. Tuesday public hearing on the plan CTA is pitching to reduce crowding on bus and rail lines. Expect an overflow crowd at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St. View details of the plan, and my post about the "devil is in the details - and execution."

First day of school brings more crowds. And speaking of crowding, expect tighter commutes depending on when you leave when Chicago Public School students descend on the CTA in full force Tuesday. It's the first day of school for most, though depending on teacher contract negotiations, crowd may dissipate a bit by next week, with teachers threatening a strike.

Two face robbery charges in Red Line incidents. Cell phones were the prime targets of robbers in two separate recent incidents. This time the alleged robbers were apprehended with help from police after a foot chase in one South Side incident. Another was nabbed on the far North Side after an alert CTA security recognized him from surveillance video. Details from the Tribune.

CTA crackdown on absenteeism, work rule violations. The CTA is getting tough this year on work rule violations, such as showing up late and absenteeism, according to a Tribune story. The CTA has dismissed 63 bus and rail workers so far this year tardiness, compared to just nine firings in all of last year. CTA President Forrest Claypool has decried "antiquated" work rules in the past. Now he's following the current union contract to the letter in this "zero-tolerance" crackdown. He cited "millions of dollars wasted on inefficiencies," the Tribune reported.

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  • Public Hearing: With the hearing on the 4th supposedly for board action on the 12th, it looks like CTA is just going through the legal formalities (as usual). Question is whether anyone from Gladstone Park, around Wilson Ave., or around Lincoln Ave. finds it worth one's effort to show up at the Taj CTA, or (as one chicagobus.org poster from the Lincoln Ave. area suggests) put enough pressure on the alderman to put pressure on the CTA, which is really the only effective course.

    Crackdown: The unasked question is how many of these firings have gone through the grievance procedure and become final (note Claypool's remark about problems with the arbiter, which seems to be newspeak for arbitrator). The former employee cited as an anecdote may have an ADA Title I claim against the CTA, but maybe he could have gotten up and had his doughnut 10 minutes earlier. I suppose that the EEOC will determine that one.

  • In regards to the crackdown, this is one of the few times I've ever heard of the employer demanding strict observance of the rules. But since tardyism is costing them $40 million a year, it's long overdue.
    Usually it's the workers working strictly according to the rule book & screwing up schedules.
    Which often means the rules are wrong or out of date. They were set up to solve one problem & created a new set of problems.
    That's just one of the problems at the CTA, although most of the problems due come from 567 Lake St.

  • It seems to me that they're showing they're going to play hardball leading up to the negotiations. They're hardly "busting the union" by the amount of people we're talking about here, but they certainly are decreasing their numbers while hiring part-time workers. Unless I'm wrong and the part-timers are also union.

    7 absenteeisms per year is a huge amount, especially if everyone is doing it. My guess is that people are using it as extra days off with that many allowed. They need to definitely decrease that in the next contract.

  • In reply to chris:

    You missed that the negotiations were ongoing, including the prior posts here that Claypool is counting on not giving the budgeted raise this year to balance the budget [ignoring that any settlement or arbitrator's award would be retroactive].

    And while I don't work there, part timers are usually union, and the grievance in 2010 was that CTA laid off employees on the full time board before those on the part time one [grievance denied denied by the arbitrator]. In any event, the pattern of hiring at CTA and 8 of 9 Pace divisions is only to hire part time bus operators, so this is nothing new.

    The only thing that is new is whether the 400 will have jobs in Dec. 2013 (or whenever that project is completed)..

  • I hope Claypool and his boss realize most of the people who ride the 11 bus on that part of the route they want to eliminate are old people. You know, the people who vote.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Well, are your neighbors in Rahm's and Claypool's neck of the woods going to put up a credible candidate who believes that transit should be a professionally managed enterprise?

    Otherwise, your comment is meaningless.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    The ST says that the elderly from Ravenswood and the alderperson from the Lincoln Ave. area showed up last night, and basically said that the hearing was a farce. Tribune quoted someone saying that it was a sham.

    However, the proof of the pudding will be if the plan is rammed through next Wednesday. Are you going to put bets that it will be withdrawn from the agenda for further study, Cheryl?

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