CTA's plan closes almost half the $300 million budget gap

Well, the CTA is almost halfway toward filling that $300 million budget gap. Unfortunately, $90 million of the $122 million in cuts and “efficiencies” announced Wednesday comes from transferring eligible capital funds to the operating budget.

Here’s how the CTA found $122 million:

  • $21.6 million — eliminating at least 70 non-union jobs, reducing intern and fellows programs.
  • $10.5 million — scaling back contracts, cutting expenses and hedging fuel.
  • $90 million — transferring the capital dollars.

The CTA again will defer pay increases for non-union workers. They also will be required to take extra furlough days and won’t be paid for the CTA’s six regularly scheduled holidays.

The number of required furlough days will be determined on a sliding
scale based on salary, with higher earning employees required to take
12 days and other employees required to take either eight or four
furlough days depending on their salaries. [CTA President Richard] Rodriguez said that the furlough days and unpaid holidays are equivalent to a 10% salary reduction for non-union employees.

Rodriguez also reported that personnel costs account for almost 70% of the CTA’s operating expenses. and “must be part of any budget balancing strategy.” I hope that’s a signal that he’ll be asking the unions to come to the negotiating table to provide their fair of givebacks. To that end , the press release notesL:

Rodriguez said he is reaching out to the CTA’s unions to ask their
cooperation in reducing costs for 2010.  Union members received a 3.0%
wage increase in 2009 and are scheduled to receive a 3.5% increase in
2010.  Nearly 90% of the CTA’s workforce is unionized.

Rodriguez is still looking for more job cuts, and challenging his management to cut deeper. The CTA said that with these latest job cuts, it will have reduced its non union workforce by 17% since 2007.


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  • It's definitely time to cut everyone's pay at the CTA by 20%!
    And it's certainly time to cut their pensions & put them all on Social Security!
    Yes, driving a bus is a tough job in Chicago, but when the drivers are making twice as much as most of their passengers, something is way, way out of whack.
    And if they go on strike over a pay cut, good! Let them!
    Then replace them with new drivers that earn even less & have no pension plan & no health plan, like me, who has no health plan due to the infamous pre-existing condition BS!
    I had to cut back this last year, so should they!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Why do the bus operators have to pay the price for a bunch of over inflated salaries sitting at desks? I'm a bus operator, and if it makes you feel better, I'm sure as hell not living comfortably.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Well, that's what I would call "a start". They still have $178000000 to go.

  • Hedging fuel. We have heard that one before.

    Also, out of the 70% of the budget that is personnel costs, unless CTA management is still that bloated, probably 95% of that belongs to the ATU. However, in the Tribune article, Darrell Jefferson, head of ATU Local 241, said no give backs. And such is at least expected, given that he and the current head of CPS had a big press event about how they compromised the arbitration case in connection with the RTA bill.

    Scooter, the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act prevents what you want to do (except letting them strike, which Huberman learned in court that they can do, if they go through the 7 steps of whatever, and can agitate for a strike without going through them). If there is going to be any significant cut in personnel costs, it will take layoffs. And since no one has figured out how to operate a bus with less than one driver, service cutbacks, to an extent similarly advertised by Pace, are foreseeable.

    However, I also note that the neophyte Daley appointees have pushed back the next Board meeting until October 21. If we see a budget recommendation or hearing notice before then, I would be surprised.

  • Scooter, the fact that there are poor people on the bus is a problem, not novel solution to CTA's budget woes. This garbage about how "I had to cut back, so should everyone else" is exactly how we all lose. If you're out of health care, you need to be fighting for it; if you don't have a secure retirement, you need to fight for that, too. Don't blame your failure to stand up for yourself on other people who do.

  • In reply to forkmother:

    How do you fight for those things? Scooter's basic point in that regard is that the government, and not even Obama, has figured out a way to guarantee everyone a job. So, fork, unless you have figured out a way to fight for that (with unemployment in this area exceeding 10%), tell us how.

  • In reply to forkmother:

    When this overprotected & over privileged union comes in for contract talks, get tough, real tough & say, no raises of any kind.
    We want you to strike, we'll use Reagan & the air traffic controllers as our playbook.
    Once these overpaid drivers & motormen strike, they can hire permanent replacements.
    I don't have a car, I'll figure out how to get around if they can keep the L running with supervisors until there are enough new bus drivers at far lower pay!
    And I come from a union family, but these CTA unions are living in a dreamworld!
    I still remember the private Evanston Bus Company that ran rings around the CTA. Their union struck, even though the bus company said flat out that bankruptcy would result if they gave in. Guess what? There's no more Evanston Bus Company & the CTA service in Evanston sucks!

    And fork, Obama has sold us out on healthcare.
    And if you saw SNL last Sat. night, he hasn't done one damn thing he promised.
    I voted for him & I now totally regret it!
    He's a failed president!
    Jimmy Carter redux!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    "When this overprotected & over privileged union comes in for contract talks, get tough, real tough & say, no raises of any kind.
    We want you to strike, we'll use Reagan & the air traffic controllers as our playbook.
    Once these overpaid drivers & motormen strike, they can hire permanent replacements."

    But, as I said, the factfinding provisions of the IPLRA, as well as arbitration provisions probably in the existing contract, protect them from the type of unilateral action you suggest. I don't believe that CTA ever won an arbitration over a contract.

    Now, if you are going to say that the Illinois General Assembly should repeal the IPRLA, go ahead. If you think, the General Assembly will, I have a bridge in Brooklyn....

    If you need a reference to the ILPRA, it is at http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=108&ChapAct=5%26nbsp%3BILCS%26nbsp%3B315%2F&ChapterID=2&ChapterName=GENERAL+PROVISIONS&ActName=Illinois+Public+Labor+Relations+Act

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Whenever possible,use TIF distict money for capital improvements.Have the Unemployment and welfare offices buy bus passes to pass out,so there aren't any excuses about not being able to look for work.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    It's not my job to tell you how to get health care or a pension. You should be doing that for yourself, because you deserve that level of security. The people working for CTA have it, and its sick that you suggest taking it from them. These are the people that drive us to work. Do you want them working extra jobs to meet ends meet? Do you want them replaced with $10/hr commodities? That's what you're talking about, and its completely wrong-headed. The answer is to get more funding for CTA, not to take the budget overruns out of the workers' hides.

    I do like the idea of unemployment offices buying bus passes.

  • In reply to forkmother:

    "The answer is to get more funding for CTA, not to take the budget overruns out of the workers' hides."

    Wasn't that what Ask Carole was about from 2005 to 2009? Of course, funding was a euphemism for more taxes.

    Which gets us to the point. Since fork has now disclaimed that it is not his job to tell Scooter and the rest of us in the private sector how to fight for health care (since I am self-employed, should I strike agaist myself?), the question is whether we protect the CTA workers' level of salary and benefits by taxing ourselves more? Thus, the budget overruns have to be taken from someone. If 10% of Illinois's economy suffers unemployment, I don't see why CTA drivers should necessarily be exempt. As Scooter pointed out, plenty of employees of the private bus companies were put out on the street in the 70s.

    Now, if you are suggesting that that {expletive deleted} Stroger rescind his sales tax increase, and dedicate .25% to the RTA, I might agree. However, asking for "more funding" in the Carole sense, piled on the RTA tax increase, the Stroger tax increase, and those proposed by the Gov. and the candidate opposing him in the primary, is now a nonstarter.

    If you have some suggestion for actually raising revenue, such as sponsorship rights to L stations, that would seriously cut into the supposed deficit, please propose them.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Too bad no one above knows what the hell they are talking about. You want facts here are facts.

    Once again the CTA is crying about it is broke, we need another State bailout, and runs are going to be caught. The public is sick and tired of hearing the same old story everyday. What the public needs to know is the truth behind why the CTA is facing more budget woes. Yes, the economy is a minor factor. But, the bottom line is gross mismanagement at the upper levels.

    There is so much mismanagement at the Chicago Transit Authority, there is no particular place to start.

    Lets go back to January, 2004. At that time the 8 bus maintenance garages were overseen by 52 garage assistant foreman, which happened to be Union Jobs. Mr. Bill Moony devised a plan to cut costs by eliminating the garage assistant foreman at all the garages and replacing them with management positions. The garage assistant foreman at that time were salaried at $62,000 a year. The garage assistant foreman were offered management positions, but the most experienced assistant foreman with time, elected to stay in the union as repairman. He top ten assistant foreman, all with more then 20 years experience, elected to go back as a bus repairman. To take the place of these 52 garage assistant foreman, 74 managers were hired at a salary of anywhere from $72,000 to $85,000 a year. If I do my math correctly, I don

  • In reply to nic10942:

    I believe that.

    The question is, even if those jobs are cut, would that be enough?

    Of course, the likelihood of those jobs being cut is about the same as I predicted about the IPLRA being repealed. Especially with two new political hacks, with no real transit experience, taking over.

  • In reply to nic10942:

    Sorry, Mr. Goodwrench, I call BS on most of your claims. It may sound good as an argument, and there may be one kernel of truth in the whole fairy tale, but most of your facts are flat out wrong.

    Yes, they did eliminate foremen and make the jobs managers. That much is accurate. But why did they do that? I believe it was to make the foremen (who were the supervisors) more accountable for the work that was being done (or not done). It allowed for better management of the repairer and more ownership and accountability for the supervisors (foremen, now managers). It worked. Bus maintenance began improving. Not all foremen were offered this transition, because, let's face it, many of you simply weren't worthy of greater responsibility.

    Due to time, I can't address all of your fallacies, but I can start on a few.

    Foreman or assistant foreman salaries were not frozen because they didn't take tha managers position. The salaries did not increase because your union hadn't come to a new wage agreement. Your time line of years is wrong, too. You saw a 3% salary increase in 2008. You saw another 3% salary increase in 2009, and are due to get a 3.25 or 3.5% salary increase in 2010. Sorry, first major hole blown in your story.

    If foremen and assistant foremen went back to bus repairers rather than accept manager's positions, it's because they wanted the security of being able to do a sub-par job and get away with it, rather than being held accountable for the operations they were responsible. They knew as managers, they could be fired or demoted for failing to meet standards. If I was a slug, I'd stick with the safer job, too.

    As to numbers of foremen vs. managers, well, sorry, try again. Although the numbers did increase in an attempt to have round the clock supervision, your stats are flat out wrong (but they sound better to make your point). They went from about two maint. managers to about 6-7 per garage; with the elimination of the foreman, the numbers were only a slight increase. Nowhere near the 115 managers you cited.

    On the pay hike of 6-20% you claimed for managers - again I call Bull. I know that's not true.

    Unionized jobs are at 90% of the CTA's staff. That sure doesn't match with your claim that unionized jobs have decreased 33% percent.

    They are more holes to poke, but I just don't have time.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Based on this, maybe I shouldn't have been so quick to believe it.

    I'm not in the garage. There seems to be a debate between two others who give the appearance of having been in the garage, but, again, it isn't established whether either is.

    However, it is clear that one side of the debate is being dominated by bus drivers who have their own interest to defend, and nothing wrong with that. Since I was last here, at least chicagoside admitted it. forkmother hasn't said what his or her interest is, whether as an ATU 241 member, or just someone spouting liberal platitudes such as "If you're out of health care, you need to be fighting for it; if you don't have a secure retirement, you need to fight for that, too," since disclaimed, and "you deserve that level of security."

  • In reply to jack:

    jack, you should just be using the [citation needed] response to such claims before trusting what sounds bad/detailed enough to be believable. For some reason I would think union agreements would be public to all employees, but I don't know if CTA would be reachable under FOIA since they are a separate 'authority' then any government.

  • In reply to sargas:

    One thing that is obvious, even reading Ask Carole, before she deleted the comments, is that CTA is subject to FOIA. FOIA extends, inter alia, to "all other municipal corporations, boards, bureaus, committees, or commissions of this State." 5 ILCS 140/2(a). CTA is a " political subdivision, body politic and municipal corporation." 70 ILCS 3605/3.

    Even CTA has a Freedom of Information page. http://www.transitchicago.com/business/freedom_of_information.aspx I suggest you consult it.

    However, I'm not playing the Wikipedia game of putting [citation needed] tags on everything, unless Kevin O makes this a real encyclopedia (and having edited a real encyclopedia for 32 years I know what one is, and Wikipedia isn't one). In that case, the tags are unnecessary, because the editors wouldn't publish something without proper footnotes. If something isn't logically consistent, I'll point it out on the Web, but I'm not playing tag artist.

  • In reply to jack:

    Also, union members shouldn't need FOIA to get a copy of the contract. When I worked a union job, the union printed and distributed copies.

  • In reply to jack:

    My apologies about being wrong about FOIA, I stand corrected, and I agree about union jobs (my point was those contracts should be easy to obtain since any employee who is open with you can give them).

    This doesn't have to be an encyclopedia, It's just people are spinning and/or stretching the truth here and you shouldn't be believing people so quickly without something backing them up.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Under Freedom of Information, is there a way to request payroll data broken out first by union/non-union then division then location? There is no privacy is there for public employees?

    It would go a long way to confirm the statements about 70% of operational expense is labor. Is there a general standard out there that CTA could be working towards - better yet, what is the % for Metra and Pace?

    From the above, ATU worker union-busting can not occur due to lack of political impetus to change status quo. If the head snake was voted out in 2011 or chooses not to run again and new minds get voted in, PERHAPS we'll see better management over labor, ridership, infrastructure, capacity when things trickle to CTA. Maybe Reagan era tactics would work then or new leadership would just privatize operations (popular tactic for last 20 years in City) to dump the union contracts.

    Unfortunately our Governor has no political will to challenge the status quo otherwise couldn't he step in and merge all Chicago area transit into one board - we wouldn't save that much in board member salary but perhaps decisions could be made more efficiently; new equipment purchases could be coordinated for better pricing and the area would gain access to better transit technologies with more buying power (granted a CTA standard bus is not the same set up as a PACE bus and for sure Metra and CTA rail cars are different but there has to be some benefits to merging). Finally support staff could be merged where it makes sense. I'm hopeful that Illinois citizens no longer have allegience to their governors after having one convicted and another indicted - Quinn hopefully won't get re-elected, instead it could be some wonderful candidate who could make the decisions impacting unions that nobody else has the will to make.

    Well it's fun to imagine improving things but they won't get better til the king is dethroned, no matter what he says. We don't need a 50 member city council either - NYC's (popn 2.5 times that of Chicago) has 51 ... so we could drop the number by half and still be higher percent wise than NY. There has to be something done there too - take the $ spent by those 25 alderman and send it to CTA. What is wrong here?

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    FOIA should allow you to get the aggregate data. With regard to your question "There is no privacy is there for public employees?" there was the recent Illinois Supreme Court decision that the "unwarranted invasion of personal privacy" exception only extended to such things as Social Security and bank account numbers, not the existence of a contract or the amount payable under it. Given that, since you seek only aggregate data, that shouldn't be a problem under that Illinois Supreme Court decision. Of course, to the extent that wage rates were determined by a collective bargaining agreement, the existing CBA should be open to inspection.

    But since you ask about legalities, I mentioned twice above the legal impracticality of unilaterally abrogating the CBA.

    I agree that the 4 board structure should be abolished, but it would take the legislature to do it, not just the governor. And with regard to your statement that Quinn is a servant of the unions, nearly anyone running in Illinois, especially on the Democratic ticket, is.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks for the info. Again, stuck in some terrible 'this is how we've done it forever' rut. Really too bad - makes it appear that nothing will improve unless the general situation gets even worse than it is.
    So maybe Quinn changes parties - might get him re-elected then.

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    Quinn as a Republican? Get real. And I don't think the Green Party has enough support to win; just the 5 or 10 percent needed to stay on the ballot.

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    If you eliminate 1/2 of the alderman, power would only be greater for each of the remaining. I think in theory it works better how we have it. It's just that Da Mayor bullies most of them. When he's gone it will work better.

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    Fewer stops, faster travel times, lower labor and fuel costs. Stop every 1/4 mile at most.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    You better go back and check all the raises the ex-garage foreman recieved, you are completely wrong.

    Also, I guess slug means a no minded, lazy, person with no mechanical aptitude. There were quite a bit of foreman like that...but...they all became managers, because they were afaraid to work, had no mechanical aptitude, and did not want to get thier hands dirty...and we know who they are.

    Also please recheck your count on managers, don't forget the ones that are hidden and the jobs that were created for them.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Check out the WGN Story. 20 managers at each location where as little as 5 years go, there were only 3. "http://www.wgntv.com/videobeta/watch/?watch=8b071050-311e-4f8d-8920-f1259c6eb612&src=front". Darrell jefferson knows what he's talking about.

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