We had a spirited discussion here last week about the union negotiations. There were some important items noted in the comments on that thread. Since this is an important issue, and not everyone reads all comments, I will summarize some key points here, plus clarify and reiterate others.
- The transit unions are slated to get a 3.5% pay increase this year, same as they got last year.
- The CTA is asking the union to forego that increase to save some service. Important point here — the CTA is NOT asking unions to take a pay cut.
- The 3.5% pay hike would cost the CTA $20 million.
- If the CTA did not have to pay that $20 million, it could reinstate service on the 41 bus routes slated to operate fewer hours each day. These cuts affect people the most, as a number of readers here have noted. For instance, many buses that provided service till 11 pm or 1:30 am will now stop service at 10:30 pm or 12:30 am.
- Non-union employees again will not get salary increases this year — the fourth year in a row. They also will have to take more furlough days and unpaid holidays — a total of 18 unpaid days off. Savings from these measures, combined with the elimination of 100 non-union jobs, will save $21 million.
- The CTA has cut its non-union workforce by 19% since 2007 — from 1,370 employees to 1,110 in 2010.
- The union workforce dropped 1% between 2007 and 2009 — from 9,929 to 9,825. Of course, 1,067 union employees will lose their jobs this year when service cuts go into effect on Feb. 7.
- “The average salary of a CTA nonunion employee this year is $72,080, compared with $74,242 for union workers.” Source: October Tribune report.
- The average hourly wage for a full-time bus driver is $28.21 per hour — including the 3.5% raise set to take effect this year. A train operator earns an average $27.06 per hour. That’s according to today’s Getting Around column.
Obviously, there’s a lot at stake — service cuts, route eliminations, service spans increasing. But the bottom line here is that the CTA unions can win lots of favorable press — and the hearts of their customers — by foregoing a pay increase this year. Again, let me reiterate — this is not a pay cut. They are not giving up something they have already, like their non-union colleagues.
If you ask me, it’s the CTA riders who should be protesting, demanding that the union give up those raises.