Summary of the "sticking points" between CTA and unions

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.

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  • I could go on a rant about the unions but I'm not going to bother. I agree with what you said Kev. It's just said that the public is blaming the CTA when all the unions have to do is forego the pay increases. I have too many non-union CTA friends who are getting screwed because the unions think they're better than them. And before people start whining about all of the top heavy management, there are areas within the CTA that are understaffed because of the cuts over the past few years.

  • "If you ask me, it's the CTA riders who should be protesting, demanding that the union give up those raises."

    When the posting about the demonstration a week ago referred to "criminal cuts" and listed the organizations associated with it, you know that was not the direction in which they were going.

    CTA only said that eliminating the pay increase would only be a start to bringing back service frequency, not that the $20 million would complete even that step.

    While I assume that rush hour is packed, I wonder how many of the other frequency cuts would otherwise be justified by ridership statistics. Pace had in its budget how many riders would be affected and what would be saved per route by its first proposed round of cuts. Also, routes that Pace has threatened to cut three or four times ago are again on the Feb. 7 chopping block. I have never seen similar numbers from the CTA. Do they really need to run separate 55A/55N routes, or Lunt 2 blocks from Touhy (the latter of which they turned over to Pace)?

  • In reply to jack:

    My last sentence just fired another synapse, and reminded me of what someone recently posted on chicagobus.org, which was my position, to wit:

    In 1997, CTA did swap some routes with Pace to cut down overlapping. Isn't it time again? Instead of competing in Evanston and Skokie, shouldn't it turn over the bus systems to Pace and let Pace develop an integrated system. I would condition it on CTA also turning over the subsidy to run the routes, but there still might be a net savings in that the Auditor General reported that Pace was the lower cost carrier, some route duplication or Pace trying to avoid it (such as, to avoid competing with 205, Pace rerouted the former 212 onto 422) could be avoided, Pace could serve the territory from its Evanston garage instead of CTA having to bring equipment from NP or FG, etc. There seem to be some obvious answers that none of the service boards (RTA, CTA, or Pace) seem to grasp.

  • In reply to jack:

    Check your facts: That 3.5% increase last year was part of a three year contract that had to be arbitrated due to CTA management refusing to bargain with unions, after many years of eroding benefits. But CTA management are dirty players. Along with that arbitrated, pro-rated raise, CTA jacked up benefit costs to where union members essentially lost money the first year, broke even the second, and now when they finally begin to see a modest increase, CTA cries wolf again and wants to yank it away. So yes, in fact, without that small pay increase it would be a pay cut.

    Furthermore, don't trust the numbers they're giving you. No union employee is taking home 74k. That's a bloated figure that's probably including medical benefits & etc. Also, that "19%" decrease in non-union employees is questionable. They're counting vacancies before the cut. Actual management is at it's highest it's ever been in CTA history.

  • In reply to Mk011610:

    Why not post a verifiable (and nonunion) link for this, especially the management salaries point?

    With regard to increased pension and benefit contributions, I suppose that the drivers would have preferred that the trusts go bankrupt, which was the direction they were going under Kruesi. Sorry, joe001.

  • In reply to Mk011610:

    So, it's fair that union employees get a raise and non-union go without?

    It's unfortunate that the CTA mismanaged the pension fund, but the workers should have to help pay back that cost, not just tax payers.

    He never said a union employee is taking home $74K, but it is an average. And just so you know, all the benefits you receive along with a paycheck ARE a part of your salary.

    Counting vacancies before the cut is valid because they are spots that would have been filled.

    You will have to give some citation or proof that "Actual management is at it's highest it's ever been in CTA history." Sounds like something a union member would say.

  • In reply to jack:

    Kevin, you just struck a nerve, on November 9, 1997, we gave up our conductors, and didn't receive one penny more for doing fo doubling our work. Proir to our current contract, we were only contributing 3% toward our pension. Our current cotract we are now contributing 8.35% towards our pension, and an additional 3% to a something that did not exist until our current called the health care trust. Kevin, you have got a lot of nerve suggesting that we do not accept our legally due raise. But again, this comes from someone who has the nerve to advertise that propganda holiday train on your blog, figuratively sticking your middle finger at us, with your last blog, you literally stuck your middle toward the unions.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    It's unfortunate that the CTA mismanaged the pension fund, but the workers should have to help pay back that cost, not just tax payers. A CTA union job is pretty darn good for not requiring a college degree.

    What exactly does the Holiday train have to do with this issue? The Holiday train barely costs any money and brings gifts to underpriveleged kids if I'm not mistaken. You'd like to kill that tradition? What a Scrooge.

  • In reply to chris:

    The holiday train, like the culture bus is a luxury item, it has nothing to do with basic public transportation. The bus tracker is a luxury item. BTW, doesn't anyone feel the irony, the pre-recorded announcements (another luxury item) cheerfully informing riders on the bus that their service is being reduced? Have any of you question the irony in it? Paying this guy(the voice) to inform riders of this. Wouldn't it be cheaper to just have posters printed.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Definitely not. For the announcement, they do have to pay Mr. CTA in Wisconsin to record a couple of clips, but the system is there to propagate them electronically. Posters have to be printed and physically distributed, and if the CTA is anything like elections (and I think it is) that must be done in Spanish and Chinese, too.

    It is the same thing as putting newspapers and books on the Internet saves paper and distribution costs.

    As far as Mr. CTA is concerned, the ADA mandates something like that. So, speak with your congressman. It is not a luxury.

    So, I guess the CTA would be worse off if the rank and file were managing it, strange as it seems to say.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    You do realize that cutting those 2 items would save no less more than $50K, and I'm being pretty generous with that figure. And by the way, they did print posters.

    BusTracker is definitely not a luxury item. It is a huge convenience for customers and increases customer satisfaction and probably increases ridership. Your assertion is flat out wrong. As for your assertion that the holiday train is a luxury item, so is the CTA workers pension. It's not required in order to run "basic public transportation". Do you recommend we get rid of that too?

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    The 1945 Metropolitan Transit Act, section 28 cleary states that the authority shall have no than 3% of it's work force shall be exempt employees, non-union, management. If Cta went back to the same ratio of employee to management that existed at it's inception in 1947, and it the CTA gets rid of all departments that did not exist in 1947, than in my opinion the unions and the authority can talk. Not until.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    But, as I previously mentioned, Darrell Jefferson was talking out of both sides of his mouth when he complained in the Sun-Times that experienced managers were leaving.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Dude, I think we're a little past the expiration date of the 1945 Metropolitan Transit Act of 1945. Not applicable here.

  • In reply to chris:

    That isn't true (the 1945 Act as amended is still what governs the CTA), but we had the prior debate on how the 3% were to be counted. I also noted the various other ways in which the letter of that Act has been violated, but no one seems to care about them, either.

  • In reply to jack:

    I thought it got superseded later on with later amendments and when the CTA was formed, but I'll take your word for it since you seem to know a lot about the subject.

  • In reply to chris:

    Check out 70 ILCS 3605. It is still there.

    http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=982&ChapAct=70%26nbsp%3BILCS%26nbsp%3B3605%2F&ChapterID=15&ChapterName=SPECIAL+DISTRICTS&ActName=Metropolitan+Transit+Authority+Act.

  • In reply to jack:

    you answered your own question.

  • In reply to jack:

    Are you blind to all the corruption in this City and State. Everyone is under investigation somewhere. How is this the unions fault. In my local alone You can take our highest number of members 206 and now we are at 152. With 3 retirements coming in the next few months and the 7 members to be laid off. Now we are at 142! Now if one of you with a college degree can do the math for me! What is the percentage? I will stick to fixing the buses! It sounds to me if you don't have a college degree then you and your family should starve or make maybe 30k a year. not the 67K I do! You all owe the unions and the labor movement for your weekends, vacations and a 40hr work week!!! Benfits were an employer idea that was cheaper than wages back in the day so they would give them to their employees as opposed to a cash raise in pay. Now the table has turned and the employers don't like it.The CTA says this cost is 1300 per month per employee with the top tear package. Look into what you can get for that much money. We have 10,000 ish employees surely they could so better.

  • In reply to richschuler:

    So what makes you so special that you should be immune from a pay freeze when most of my friends who arent brass within the CTA and arent non-union are forced to take furloughs, unpaid holidays and have endured a four year long pay freeze?

  • In reply to ibright05:

    Funny you say that. The union's don't get raises every year. The norm for union contracts IS every for years (CTA mgt. would like to stretch it out to 5yrs). And when they finally get a crumb, it's pro-rated over a few years. Does it seem fair if the unions skip this one and get a raise every 8yrs? Would your friends prefer an 8yr pay freeze?

    Also (in contrast to the OP) CTA does, in fact, want unions to take furlough days and unpaid holidays on top of a pay cut. Now they're hanging them out to dry in the media cause they refuse to take the B.S. any longer.

  • In reply to Mk011610:

    Correct me if I'm wrong but its NOT 3.5% every four years. It's 3.5% a year so try again.

  • In reply to ibright05:

    which adds up to about 14% every four years. Yea, that's definitely not something that is DESERVED. a lot of people would love to get that and they don't. No one is saying that people shouldn't get pay increases but given the fact that lots of non-union people are effectively getting pay cuts, stop your whining and take a pay freeze. It's that or you lower ranking union friends will get fired. So whose greedy now?

  • In reply to richschuler:

    Glad you're gone you pathetic sack of lying crap.

  • In reply to richschuler:

    Nobody is saying that people without a college degree should starve. Don't muddy the issue. Sorry, but I don't believe that someone without a college degree should out-earn someone who does have one, for driving a bus. Are you suggesting that at $67,000/year, that not getting a 3.5% raise will cause you to starve? I'm not buying it. And let's not pretend that union presidents are not corrupt either.

  • In reply to chris:

    The CTA says Management has taken pay cuts and hasn't recieved a raise in 4 years. I have seen articles in the paper and know 1st hand that this is just a play on words. If you give them a permotion or change their job title to maybe do some extra work. They then get an increase in pay for their new job not a "raise". My past manager went from 55K to 76K in the last 2 years!!!
    Another large expense is that of all the cars for management. All of these cars cost us money gas, maintenance and the cost of the vehcile. When I left there were over 800 pieces in the Non Revenue Fleet!! If management gave up those cars and used their own how much would that save?

    Another sticking point is all of the outside contracts to clout heavy sub contracters. This work is done low bid we don't have control over what goes into it as we would if we did it in house. Now we have to maintain equipment we cannot get parts to or we have to change it over to what we can. Most out sourced work needs to be touched up or finished or redone. Hardly any of this gets back to the contractor or it might effect a contribution to a fund raiser. One example is Christy Weber Landscaping. This company won a 2year 2 million dollar contract to shovel el platforms. The last pay out count I found on this was 1.4 million. That isn't counting this years 2010 snow. When the employee,s did the snow command we did all of the locations and buildings. We still do all of our buildings. So that would need to be added to the 1.4 million to get an over all cost. Which is going to be higher in the long run than having us just do all of it.
    And with the IMTAA it does still govern the CTA and the CTA saying the 3% applies to at will employees is just wrong. The at will section was an admendment made by Frank Krusi. This was much later and has no bearing on the 3% that was in the original Act. It also doesn't make any refferance to the number of Exempt employees.

  • In reply to richschuler:

    Under Huberman and Rodriguez, they eliminated some of that 800 strong fleet, but I can't remember the numbers right now. Your point is valid, but they have taken steps to eliminate some of that.

    As for the contract bidding process you have a point, but it's difficult for an outsider to determine whether or not they are good deals or not. The issue with the snow shoveling seems valid though. CTA workers should be able to accomplish this themselves for cheaper in-house.

  • In reply to richschuler:

    "Another large expense is that of all the cars for management. All of these cars cost us money gas, maintenance and the cost of the vehcile. When I left there were over 800 pieces in the Non Revenue Fleet!!"

    Clever - jumping from referring to "cars" to "non-revenue fleet". (That's the kind of misleading comparison the bus union has been making.) If you know so much about the pieces of "equipment" in the "non revenue fleet" then you must know that over 700 of the pieces are tow trucks, trailers, plows, highlifts, emergency responder vans, bus mechanics street reponse vans, panel trucks, armored trucks, tradesworkers equipment vans, etc. You must know that these pieces of equipment are used in the daily operation of bus bus and rail service.

    Making the false implication that there are 800 cars minimizes the validity of anything truthful you might have to say.

  • In reply to richschuler:

    It's just insane that they're hanging onto a 3.5% pay increase while laying off 1,000 union members. In any other, rational, industry raises would be cut down in order to preserve headcount, and thus service, which brings in revenue.

  • In reply to JK47:

    I'd be curious to hear the opinion of one of the unlucky 1000 people losing their job. See what they think of the union...

  • In reply to chris:

    You would think that the unions would rather keep their own employed instead of lining their own pockets. Again, you would think.

  • In reply to chris:

    Kevin, you never did answer me.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Bill, all CTA employees had to pay more for pensions and health care, not just unions. So did I when my employer stopped contributing to the pension. It's a fact of life. As for me sticking my middle finger at you, actually, I'm just expressing my opinion. No offense intended at you or the union. I appreciate that drivers/operators are generally hard workers and do a good job. I still think you should forego the raise.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    We are all hard workers who do not deserve a raise. If that's not talking out of both sides of your mouth.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Just working hard, does not earn you a raise. I worked hard the last year and half, but my salary hasn't gone up either year. Deal with the economy we're in, instead of refusing to take a look around you.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Where do you get your information that decommissioned buses will be scrapped, not sold? Citation needed.

    As for your claim about over 100 cars, those facts are outdated and they eliminated some of that waste.

    Nobody said without a college degree you should make less 30K, you did. There is a big difference between 30K and 67K. Somewhere in between seems appropriate. If you get laid off, I dare you to find such a high paying job somewhere else, even in a good economy! No really, I dare you!

    You're also suggesting that someone getting a promotion should not receive a raise, which is kind of ridiculous.

  • In reply to chris:

    I don't think the argument has any more merit. Obviously you're right but there are those who don't want to see things practically. I'm all for fair employment but what the union is demanding for here is simply ridiculous. If the CTA bends then we're all screwed in the long run.

  • In reply to chris:

    I don't have documentation but if you come to 79th and vincennes look at the row of buses that are being scrapped. watch the tow trucks take them to cozzi and be cruched. Buses that were rehabbed 3 years ago at 80K each. Some weren't rehabbed most were some are wrecks but most aren't. these are the 6000 series flexible buses. I think 1992 models and are the last of the high floor buses. We did send 8 or so buses to Peoria last summer when we were scrapping the 5800 and 5300 buses. The paper work says dispossed of in a non useable condition. all fluids drained, A/C gases recovered, Misc. components removed recovered and leased tires removed.
    I didn't say I was not willing to do anything about this funding issue. It is that we see the wasted money everyday and for their mistakes they want it to come out of our pockets. We have tried to give counter offers but the CTA won't budge off their pay freeze and furloughs. How about four 9hr work days for our shop this would work. and save them more even with giving us our raise. no is all we hear to any counter offer so how is this negotiating? It is not it is just demanding.
    The 100 cars is still a close number but now some are leased. Why any at all in this time of need. At 76K per year they surely could afford a car of their own. Also remember the City mechanics make $42+ per hour. I would take that pay and the same furlough days the City has in a heart beat.

  • In reply to chris:

    I had the list of managemnt cars and it was well over 100 cars 2 yrs ago. It went to the papers which is why they are trimming it down. Is the perk of taking home a car because you are on call 24/7 even though you live 20 miles away and have never been actually called out ever but you might get called some day. Oh yeah and make sure you log all the miles you use it for personal use wink wink nod nod because you will have to declare them on your taxes. Look at what the CTA is saying. The 3.5% won't stop all the layoffs or service cuts!! It would be a combination of pay freeze fulough days and still some layoffs and service cuts. So if we give all that back the CTA won't agree to not layoff any more employees down the road. The CTA wants it completely one sided their way or the highway. We are already scrapping the buses that are being put aside for the service cuts. These buses were just rehabed 3 years ago!! They are not perfect but not junk! Which is what they will be in a couple of months! I am sure some other municipality would love to get them. But they will be crushed for scrap! It isn't that we don't want to keep our members working it is the fact that the CTA is using the media to make us look like the bad guy. The term raise is being used not pay increase when a manager position is elminated someone has to pick up the work so now that postion gets an increase in pay because of their title change. It wasn't a raise it was a pay increase for a new job description. My past manager got a 30% raise in the last 2yrs 55K to 76K. Our numbers are down just like exempt numbers. We have taken cuts in how we are paid and hours of work. No I am not starving but the way some of you are talking if you don't have a degree you shouldn't make more than 30K. Here is a good way to get some numbers for CTA employees. Go to the mimms terminal go to the phone directory search by title and enter manager. Last time I checked it was 439! now do specialist, coordinator, senoir coordinator and consultant and so on use your head on our titles and look at the numbers. All in all they the CTA is twisting the numbers and cooking the books to make it sound as if they have given back so much and we don't believe it. So now they are bashing us in the media. Also remember when the times do get better they just give what they gave up back to themselves. We on the other hand will never get what we give up back. The CTA won't agree to any time limits on the give backs as well as any performance or funding links to getting back the pay raise or furloughs. Again a one way street!

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Spoken like someone who hasn't actually read Section 28 for themselves. I've pulled a copy of the Act from Westlaw just for the hell of it.

    "The total number of employees occupying exempt offices, positions, or grades of employment may not exceed 3% of the total employment of the Authority."

    The 3% cap applies only to exempt grades. The remaining workers are non-exempt employees which is not synonymous with unionized workers (i.e. administrative workers employed on an hourly basis).

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    >didn't receive one penny more for doing fo doubling our work

    Where's the eye-roll button on this comment form?

    I can see where you're coming from, though. If I was working on the trains, while those guys in the station booths sat reading their newspapers, I too might feel like I was doing "double work". But in the real world, no.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Mean annual wage, excluding amounts earned via OT and less benefits received, works out to be roughly $28 hourly for bus drivers and $27 hourly for train operators. A 3.5% increase is better than what people received last year (my company raised pay .82%) and will likely receive this year (wage freeze). This is on top of contributing 6-9% of our incomes towards retirements (401k's which aren't nearly as nice as pensions) and a lot more than 3% of our incomes towards health insurance. That kind of base wage is also well above the median wage for individuals in Chicago as well as individuals without a college education.

  • In reply to jack:

    The 96 bus runs on Lunt due to the basic incompetence of the CTA to realize that the city changes over the years.
    Prior to 1979, Pratt Blvd. between Seeley [2100 W] & Western was exactly 16 feet wide. It was impossible for two buses to pass each other on that stretch of the street. So the 96 ran on Lunt, which has parking banned on one side. It also used to run back on Touhy & Rogers to the Howard L station.
    So when Pratt was widened out in 1979, the 96 should have been moved there, but wasn't then & still hasn't.

  • In reply to jack:

    It is a very bad idea for the unions to take their pay raise. It has been very well implied that these cuts are completely the fault of the unions. While they aren't, when they go into effect, it is the unions that will be blamed as much or more than the CTA. People in Chicago and, really, across the country, already have a very deep anti-union sentiment. It's hard to feel pity for people that make much more money than your average American worker, and still get ridiculously good benefits, and are willing to screw up the commutes of others to keep those unnecessarily good benefits. People know that - they're not stupid - and the CTA has, whatever the reality of the situation, set the situation to that tune. So, it's gonna make the unions look even worse than they already do if the service cuts go through - and the unions will have very little public pity left when they actually need public support in the future so fight something more grievous.

  • In reply to theloosh:

    I totally agree that the public isn't going to have sympathy for the union, when financially struggling families wake up Feb. 7th, to find that their service has been cut. They shouldn't sympathize. It's not fair and it's not right.

    -but I think the CTA/media is making the unions the greedy bad guy. For decades CTA management has become a dumping ground for 'political friends', so they can suck off a second pension. Hell, their used to be 1 manager (and one foreman) per shift, per work location. Now there's 5+ per shift? There also alot less worker's (due to unfilled vacancies from retirees). WTF?

    Listen. Union employees sometimes do dangerous jobs and work in toxic enviroments. In some locations, it's still like working in coal mine. They're not greedy. After being screwed-over so many times by managemant, they just want to be treated fairly. And that's not alot to ask for.

    Good public transportation for Chicago is vital for the economy of Chicago and the ENTIRE state but it's political hot-potato in Springfield 'cause it's an election year, and chicken Quinn avoided it like dog poop. (sure, he ok'd CTA using the right hand (Capitol budget) to pay for the left (operating budget. Nice going BTW). What they need to do is put the seniors back on a reduced rate scheme and pass a $0.01 gas tax. That would be a sustainable solution avoid 'CTA CRISES' every freaking year. Instead we have that 'home purchase' tax. A bad idea from the beginng.

  • In reply to Mk011610:

    You're right that union employees sometimes get a bad rap, but working at the CTA is hardly a dangerous job when compared to miners or construction type jobs. It is not right that the wealthiest in our country force the lower economic classes to "fight for the scraps". However, it is also not right that someone who has a HS education be getting a raise when many well-educated people are out of jobs. I'd be willing to be these people getting laid off will have a hard time finding as good of a job elsewhere in this economy.

    Your last paragraph is very well written and I agree completely. Tie the funding to something that is related (gas tax) and increase as necessary as time goes on. A $0.01 tax on gas would hardly be noticeable, but a huge boon for public transportation. That and getting rid of the Free Senior program.

  • In reply to jack:

    Maybe we can sum this up to its salient points and move on:

    1. Unless someone comes up with a pot of money in the next week or so, there appears to be nothing to stave off the service cuts.

    2. Nothing can make the unions make give backs, but the unions can't stop the CTA from laying off 1000 of their members. ibilldavis and apparently the other 90% who are not getting laid off have no concern for their brethren. The union can file grievances about how the persons to be laid off are determined, but can't stop the layoffs themselves.

    3. Besides having to borrow to stave off fare increases, it was reported that the RTA has to borrow because the state isn't paying its contribution on time, just like it isn't paying social services providers or school districts, BECAUSE IT IS BROKE or financially mismanaged.

    Ergo, somebody is going to pay for this, whether it is the laid off workers, passengers, or the taxpayers. We know, from my reference in the first post, who are not in the third category. If there is no appetite in sharing the pain, so be it.

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