Take the )*$%&*)# CTA strike

Let 'em shut it down

Believe me, it's the only way to end this perpetual "doomsday" crap. Any public employee union threatening a strike now for any increased benefits is out of line with reality. When you get even Mayor Richard M. Daley pleading for the CTA unions to settle, you know they've gone too far. Reported the Sun-Times:

Daley acknowledged that CTA unions gave plenty during a 2007 deal that
allowed a 16 percent pay hike over five years to be gobbled up by
contributions to health care and a pension fund on the brink of
collapse. But he said there is no alternative but to ask those same
unions to dig even deeper, just as city employees have been forced to do
-- from the mayor down.

As for give-backs, given in the past and allegedly now, the unions have plenty to give back.
However, I do agree with Robert Kelly, president of the Amalgamated Transit Workers Union Local
308, representing motormen, when he criticizes Gov. Pat Quinn for an agreement that posed a two-year fare freeze in return for the CTA to receive borrowed money. For all the bellyaching about our state and local financial crises, everything we do seems to make it worse.
Yes, I work from home so I won't miss the CTA while the workers strike. Although, like all 7 million people in the Chicago area, I'll feel the impact one way or another. But are we left with any other choice other than to face down the unions?  When will the public stand up to them?

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  • "Yes, I work from home so I won't miss the CTA while the workers strike."

    Dennis, that sentence says it all. Do you have any idea what havoc would ensue if the CTA were shut down. I understand your frustration. And it might show suburbanites and city drivers why they should care about the CTA when the roads are clogged with CTA riders in their cars.

    But really, a strike is the last thing we need.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    I'm only half serious. A strike isn't the issue. But you're right about my frustrations. Back when I was covering the CTA for the old Chicago Daily News and the Sun-Times, it was one threat after another. I remember when the average wage for the working stiff was under $20,000, we had bus washers who were making over $50,000. It was the same story, year after year with binding arbitration. The arbitrator--who was selected by agreement from both sides, would split the difference down the middle (not wanting to offend either side and risk his career as an arbitrator). Yes, the unions have given up a bunch over the years; I remember the street cars having an operator and a conductor, and on the L a trainman on every other car. Being a former union (private sector) officer, I also understand that the union has to stand up for its members.

    But, now everyone's hurting...Yes, a strike would be crippling, but how crippling has it been for the region to have these doomsdays, year after year?

  • In reply to DennisByrne1:

    I have discussed it elsewhere on Chicago Now, including the CTA Tattler, but anyway, my view of the most recent event.

    As not mentioned here or there, Chicago Breaking News reported that the union lost its arbitration case. Hence despite the other union leader, Darrell Jefferson, being quoted as saying that "we have to strike, because they are throwing out our contract," that ground is no longer there. Furthermore, the contract, as required by the Illinois Public Relations Act, requires that such a grievance be arbitrated, and it was. So, while CTA unions have the right to strike, not during a contract.

    As far as Quinn, he didn't have any money--he bought votes by in effect having the RTA borrow the money, and saying that the state would cover the first two years, even though the state is broke. No mention who would have to repay the bonds, but we assume that even if the economy rebounds, the RTA would be forced to do so before making allocations to the service boards.

    With regard to your comment about continuous doomsdays, you are right. The 2008 cuts show that the 2007 doomsday threats were political theater. Then they claimed they needed to cut 750 buses to make up a $54M deficit; here they claim that $93M in concessions would take care of service cuts involving 280 buses.

    The situation is too fouled up to be susceptible of an easy solution, but it is clear that the legislature royally messed up this one in the 2008 RTA Act, and like most else that the legislature does, turned out to be basura.

  • In reply to jack:

    I should have also mentioned that isn't it curious that the CTA and Pace cuts are the weekend after the election? Metra raised its fares the weekend before.

  • In reply to jack:

    What ever happened to the proposal to get rid of the free rides for seniors? Is that another item that can't be discussed before the election by the cowardly candidates. I don't recall any candidate for any office being asked about the issue during the primary campaign.

    Yesterday I took Metra downtown to get tickets for "August: Osage County" for Sunday (It's true - I don't give a damn about the Super Bowl). I did it because my wife and I refuse to pay the outrageous Ticketmaster fees and I had a pleasant ride down and back for nothing. I also took my new camera and went over to the State of Illinois building and took some pictures. I stopped at a book store and had a great discussion with a genial man about books and movies. I also got an invigorating 30 minute walk to and from Union Station.

    As long as the rides are free, we'll keep using Metra. We hate driving downtown and would take Metra even if we had to pay full price - it's still worth it.

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