How CTA's Claypool solved absenteeism problems, saved big bucks

All it took for CTA President Forrest Claypool to start saving on absenteeism was to take a close look at the labor contract, and enforce it consistently.

That's what he told the Sun-Times editorial board last week: "We finally figured out that we were not consistently applying discipline ... and we were losing grievance cases because of that inconsistency and managers were handling it all differently," Claypool said.

It was last October that Claypool was demanding changes in work rules, including those for absenteeism that he said cost the CTA $40 million. But it was March when the CTA determined it wasn't "consistently applying discipline." From the Sun-Times blog post:

"We finally realized that we had the tools," Claypool said last week at a meeting with the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. "...Once I finally realized that if we just trained all of our managers to handle the cases exactly the same, handle all the cases consistently and enforce the collective action guidelines as written in the collective bargaining agreement it would have an impact. And it has, tremendously."

The CTA also installed some technology, with check-ins that are electronic, so it knows exactly when "people are coming and going."

"We have definitely culled millions of dollars out of absenteeism," Claypool said.

Nice reporting job on this by Tom Frisbie, a former colleague of mine at the Sun-Times.

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  • fb_avatar

    How we saved money: we started actually enforcing the rules. Good job there, buddy. Why were they not enforced to begin with?

  • Just doing what you're supposed to be doing, and being consistent about it: what a concept! This could be revolutionary if it caught on. (And I'm actually being serious when I say that.)

  • You have to read between the lines. It's more than just doing what you're supposed to be doing and enforcing rules. It's changing a culture by getting everyone to buy into a new way of doing things, even if the new way is the way it is supposed to be done.

  • In reply to Icarus:

    I get that, and I realize it takes work on the part of management to steer people back to the way things should be done. But it's still amazing to contemplate how far things can get away from that without anybody noticing or doing anything about it.

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    Forrest Claypool...that name sounds like a Truman Capote character.

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