Union negotiations at stalemate as CTA prepares for service cuts

The CTA and CTA unions are continuing to negotiate this week and next week, while the CTA prepares for service changes set to take effect Feb. 7. However, those talks have not been very fruitful.

Both sides have dug in with no compromise on positions: The CTA insists the unions give back their 3.5 percent pay increase set to go into effect this year. The unions say hell no — we made concessions in pension and health care two years ago, so forget about it. For its part, the CTA notes that nonunion employees this year have to take off more unpaid days, and will endure their fourth straight year without a pay increase.

Meanwhile, service cuts loom just 17 days away.

The CTA recently posted customer alerts on buses, trains and at other CTA facilities. Next week, CTA information specialists will distribute information at key at bus stops and rail stations about the service reductions.

This brochure lists the changes for each bus line, including shorter hours on 41 routes and less frequent service on 119 routes. All nine express bus routes are being eliminated. And less frequent service will be offered on all rail lines except the Yellow Line.

Frankly, I was surprised to hear that unions were still talking to CTA brass. So I suppose where there are talks, there is still hope.

Though it seems to be fading fast.


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  • Of course, it is hard to negotiate with someone who takes both sides.

    The Sun-Times reported:
    Asked what he thought about the decline in management personnel and salaries, Darrell Jefferson, head of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241, which represents bus drivers, said the union is concerned with the lack of experience of some managers.

    "The most important thing to us is that you have people who know what they're doing," Jefferson said. "You cannot run a transit agency like you're running a grocery store."


    On the other hand, Chicago Breaking News said:

    Darrell Jefferson, president of the union representing CTA bus drivers and bus mechanics, said each bus garage had five managers when he was hired in 1994 and today there are 20 managers at each facility.

    "They're having lunch all day, I guess," he said. "There's not enough paperwork for all of them."

    CTA President Richard Rodriguez said Jefferson's assertions are "completely untruthful."


    Having been caught before, I'm not going to get into the internal factual dispute about what goes on in the garage, but sure note that it is curious that Jefferson is crying about losing some managers, but then says enough have not been laid off. I wonder which ones he wants to keep? The enablers?

    BTW, I noted that this protest, unlike the folks protesting the "criminal cuts" did get publicity, at least on Tribune Co. outlets. However, the Breaking News article indicates that the CTA Board, for a change, actually showed a little moxie.

  • In reply to jack:

    What he is saying is that CTA needs to get rid of the bad managers (policital apponties) and only kept the ones that actually drove buses and trains and know how the system works.

  • In reply to leobaz:

    I might agree with that, but it the press doesn't reflect that he said that.

  • Well, the fact that they are still talking might lead to a compromise. We can only hope.

  • Can anyone describe the difference between service cuts as planned and service cuts that would occur if the CTA gets this union concession? How would a concession improve service on the street?

    Oh, and Kevin, any chance you could check with your various contacts to find out whether the CTA Trip Planner, RTA's Goroo, and Google Transit will give us up-to-date information about trips planned during the cutback (and, if so, when that information will be accurate if it isn't already)? The CTA is promoting the new start and end times where they're being adjusted, but I can't see a damn thing about frequency of service anywhere, and that's what matters to me when I'm at a stop.

  • In reply to BobS:

    The Chicago Breaking News story, to which I provided the link above said that Peterson said that "the agency could start reinstating service, starting with the 41 bus routes slated to operate fewer hours each day, if the unions agreed to return their 3.5 percent salary increase. The pay hike will cost the CTA $20 million."

    Rodriguez had previously said in the October, 2009 President's Report that a total of $95 million was needed from a combination of service efficiencies, or union or legislative action. http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/board_presentations/October_2009_President_s_Report_10_21_09.pdf So, I guess that's the amount needed to avert all service cuts.

    One doesn't know if, in calculating the effect of service cuts, they assumed that a certain number of riders would be lost, which means that a certain amount of fares would be lost, etc. They admitted in 2007 that, for that reason, about $220 million in cuts were in that Doomsday Plan to make up a $55 million deficit. At least Pace posted in its budget that cutting each specific route had a specified impact on the ridership count.

  • In reply to BobS:

    Here is the press release regarding the changes. It details them in minutes.


  • In reply to elllveee:

    Great find. Thanks, Lisa!

  • In reply to BobS:

    They say they'll restore normal hours/frequency to the standard bus routes. The expresses remain on the chopping block as does less frequent train service.
    Solidarity could be offered; management & board should both take the 3.5% cut if union does. The fact that the board is really just a cushy job for friends of the governor and mayor doesn't help either. Since board isn't a full-time job, how about they take a 50% cut to help through the hard times? How about actually appointing people who use and therefore give a * about transit?

  • In reply to Michi:

    Of course, a distinction may be that all the CTA management materials, including the Breaking News article I mentioned above, say that nonunion pay has been frozen for 4 years, and those people have to take furloughs, while they are not asking the unions to take cuts, but to forgo an increase.

    Even if the worthless Board had its salaries eliminated, that would save only $175,000. That only makes an insignificant, but maybe symbolic dent in the $95M deficit.

    I agree that the current board is worthless, but more than rhetoric is needed to come up with the $95M in real money.

  • In reply to Michi:

    Also, with regard to "Solidarity could be offered," the Union is showing "real" "solidarity," by the 80% who didn't get WARN notices, in effect, saying "bye bye" to half of the other 20%.

  • In reply to Michi:

    Mitch -
    Management and non-union staff already have taken a 7% cut for 2010 - as well as no raises since 2005 or 2006.

    What they were asking the unions to do wasn't really a 3.5% pay cut, it was asking them to defer their 3.5% pay increase they were scheduled to receive this year. Yes, that's right, they weren't taking away existing wages, just deferring future raises. Of course, the unions want to position it as a great loss, and don't mention that this is the third year that they have received 3-3.5% pay increases.

    Naturally, no one wants to face a wage decrease or even give up a planned pay increase, but in these tight financial times we all have to give a little. So 90% of the bus operators get to see a pay increase while 10% of their brethren get laid off and much of the city they serve gets to wait longer for service. And no one is helped by the misinformation and rhetoric the union spews.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Of the people not being laid off, a significant percent of those operators are getting their hours slashed.

    Please remember, it's not the CTA employees you interact face to face with who mismanaged CTA funds. So don't get mad at them.

  • In reply to Michi:

    Where do you get your information about what does and doesn't remain on the chopping block?

    As Jack stated, the salaries for the Board are not much. I agree that our governance should include something more along the StrapHangers group in NYC, but how do you know the board doesn't use or give a * about transit?

  • In reply to Michi:

    But they don't want the Union to concede. It's important that the Union be shown as a "problem". It's important that these layoffs go through. It's the opening salvo on breaking the union. The game's afoot, Watson.

  • In reply to painhertz:

    Exactly, the decision makers at CTA are doing everything in their power to make the people who actually do the work, to look like the bad guy.

  • Bob S,

    Theoretically, if the union were to not receive 3.5% raises, they could keep some of those members and not cut back as much service. So maybe they could keep the express buses and some of the employees if they reach a compromise.

    Use the Bus Tracker when you're at a stop. Unless you're referring to the train, in which case there is not a good way to find that out since they never appear (to me) to be on a schedule.

  • In reply to chris:

    I use the bus tracker constantly, chris, but that doesn't help me plan a trip.

  • In reply to BobS:

    I was referring to your comment about frequency, not the Trip Planner...

  • I thought CGT was referring to passengers assaulting drivers, like the 83 year old man in Chinatown, not a poster on this forum.

    Since you are saying that the remainder are getting their hours slashed, what exactly is the overtime situation at CTA. I remember a couple of years ago, the union had rostering thrown out, because the runs were 40 hours and no OT unless you worked the 40. Are they basically saying now that the picks will be restricted to 40 hours?

  • In reply to jack:

    Overtime seems to be going down over the last year or 2 if you look at the president/financial reports.

  • I never tried to imply he was presenting any sort of hostile attitude toward the everyday CTA employees.

    He made mention of the operators not wanting to give up their money, and I was simply saying, to people in general, if you're upset with service cuts, don't bother getting upset with the person behind the wheel, because he or she most certainly had nothing to do with the decisions that have gotten CTA to this point in the 1st place.

  • $28.45 is not an average, that is top pay, not everyone makes top pay. But I doubt you care

  • Seriously? You don't get it? Well, suggesting that massive service cuts are needed unless the people who actually do the work take pay cuts, to me, is making the employees look like the bad guy.

    If you disagree, and I'm sure you do being as I've never encountered anyone who regularly holds such a nasty attitude toward a particular occupation as you do toward CTA employees, well, I'm sorry.

  • Yes, it's wrong, I do the job, I know what the pay is. You are posting misleading information.

  • See again, you're posting misleading information, I don't know where you get it from, but you are. The money being asked to be given back is the cost of living increase that was received this year. The employees aren't asking CTA to break the contract to help out, so why should the employees be asked to break the contract. CTA keeps giving people like you misleading information that you run with, but you don't know the full story.

    How about the money we're giving up from having to train ourselves on our free time? Did you know about that? Of course not. One of the garages is scheduled to close, which means many routes are moving around so the operators have to go out and learn to drive all these new routes on our own time, without being compensated, which is against the law, but that's us helping, what's CTA doing? Taking away company cars that weren't being used anyway, WOW thanks!

    All I'm saying is, maybe, just maybe, you should consider the fact that you may not know as much as you think you do.

    Oh, and you're "I'm a taxpayer" story is a great one, that nickel you're tossing in the bucket is a real life saver. If you're really so concerned about your tax money, stop wasting time whining here, and get on your alderman's behind and find out why they don't have the guts to help out. Do you have any idea how many free riders are around you everytime you set foot on CTA? Let me tell you, it's A LOT more than you realize.

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