Chicago chambers: Union should give concessions to restore service, add jobs

In a Tribune letter to the editor last week, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce last week called on CTA union workers give up wage hikes this year, take unpaid furlough days off and pay more of their health insurance. Here’s the letter.

Keep Chicago moving

transportation is critical to lifting our region out of the current
recession and returning to a pattern of creating and retaining jobs.

plays a critical role in our local economy. The agency’s buses and
trains move our region’s most critical assets on a daily basis — people.

Unions, businesses and city of Chicago residents suffer when the CTA is forced to cut services or threatens work slowdowns.

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce believes that public transit, and the
CTA in particular, is essential to our city’s competitive position in
the global marketplace while contributing to Chicago’s high quality of

We can get the CTA moving at full service again, save CTA
workers’ jobs and ensure Chicago is competitive in the global
marketplace. But that means CTA workers have to make the necessary and
realistic sacrifices that businesses and other public and union
employees are making across this city.

Those sacrifices include: taking furlough days, deferring annual wage increases and accepting changes in health benefits.

are the unpleasant but realistic consequences of the tough economy we
are all struggling through. The good news is there is a clear choice.
CTA workers can remain inflexible and thereby sacrifice vital public
services and their coworkers’ good, public sector jobs. Or the union
can work with the CTA and help our city return to sustained economic
growth and ensure the CTA operates at full capacity.

Gerald J. Roper, president and CEO, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Chicago


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  • Typical lack of vision response.Why can't we try to create more business,jobs and revenue? Destination malls are one possibility.They could bring in a steady stream of visitors that would come more often and spend more than the Olympics.
    The obvious choice would be a big and tall mall.
    Another avenue would be a hip hop mall.Besides being an economic engine,it could provide a safe place where young people could congregate.It could have structured events or not.Grafitti artists could work for society,instead of against by having both a permanent and revolving showcase for their work.It could have a cute name like"The Positive Flow Mall".Celebrities that had factory stores for their product lines would help provide publicity. Transitwise, it could bring more CTA stations,CTA buses or taxis into an underserved area. TIF district money,small business loans and business incubator grants could finance this.If there was enough demand, a downtown version or an outlet version could be added.An O'Hare mini version,using kiosks could be up and running in a matter of months.

  • In reply to JamesReyes:

    I agree that the Chamber of Commerce didn't provide a response, and we need to create more business, jobs and revenue. However, the target mall is not a response, either. It relies on fads that may be gone tomorrow. Then, instead of the Dixie Square Mall, the Blues Brothers III could drive through the empty Hip Hop Mall. Except that Blues Brothers II was filmed in Toronto for tax subsidy and foreign exchange reasons. I also really doubt that suburbanites have to go into the city to find a big and tall shop. This search indicates that enough are around.

    The Toronto reference gets us to the real issue. This state, and especially Cook County and the City of Chicago do nothing to encourage business here, and in fact, do a lot to discourage business in the area where the CTA gets its tax revenue. I don't have to repeat such dumb adze things those entities do, such as keeping merchants such as Walmart, that want to do business out, passing regressive sales taxes that send business outside Cook County, and imposing a corruption tax that the current governor does not want to cut by suggesting real reform. One would think that the Chamber would be fighting on those fronts, or, say, try to find a business for the vast undeveloped parts of the South Side, such as the South Works site.

  • In reply to JamesReyes:

    I think most of the union members would be very willing to hold wage hikes this year, take unpaid furlough days off and pay more of their health insurance if CTA is honest about restoring bus service across the city where people are not glued to each other on the buses and trains and call back all their members and hold a hiring freeze to help keep the CTA budget instead they are letting those dumb sissy union leaders make the wrong decision cause it don't affect them so the hell with everybody else. While all the blame is not the union fault CTA never had anybody with brains to run operations. I remember when most cutting back in 2008 CTA was the on still hiring 600 -700 new operators when the time was to cut back then and some say that was the plan that lead up to the Feb 7 cuts which is to get rid of more experience and keep the least experience that put Safety at a higher risk for the CTA riders and pay a lesser salary. CTA,RTA,PACE AND METRA SHOULD LET THE PEOPLE VOTE AT THE POLLS WHO RUN THESE AGENCIES cause when you get a screwed up Mayor like Daley in office things will be screwed up for time to come.

  • In reply to hedmond33:

    I agree that the transit authority boards are all messed up, and Daley shouldn't be running the CTA. However, just look at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and judicial elections to see if the vote really means anything--especially with regard to taking control away from the Cook County Democratic Organization.

    As far as what most union members willing to do, if the reports about how they voted at union meetings are true, you appear wrong on that, especially now that the union represents only the 8900 who kept their jobs. But, as I mentioned above, that phase of the situation is OVER.

  • In reply to JamesReyes:

    There should be no union give backs unil cta eliminates all the unesssary mangement jobs, and goes back to the ratio of union workers to management that existed in 1947.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    So, you still don't understand the definitions of at-will, exempt and non-exempt, huh? I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Your spelling and sentence structure is atrocious. Did you get your education from an Illinois public school or did you buy it from Wal-Mart? I'll cast my vote for Wal-Mart. You get what you pay for.

  • Looks like people are starting to rebel against the unions in this town.

  • I thought there was a consensus that union givebacks alone didn't accomplish much service restoration at all. Why's the chamber saying it's sufficient to restore all of the cutbacks?

  • Bob: The CTA's proposals for union givebacks would net about $76 million, but still leave them $20 million short.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    Thanks, Kevin. I'm so old I remember when it was pegged at around $33 million net...

  • I think we last noted that it has been a month, and it has died down as I predicted. Also, as Bob S. points out, furloughs do not solve the problem that it takes an integral number of drivers to drive a bus.

    BTW, I'm surprised that we haven't had a post that we should be fair to Rodriguez for (1) giving us an all low floor, accessible bus fleet, and (2) reducing CTA's per gallon cost of diesel 45% from last year. I guess I scared that guy off. We, of course, do know the other side of those "accomplishments."

  • DO you actually think Wal-Mart would move in w/o SIGNIFICANT tax incentives? The idea of increased tax revenue from Wal-Mart is a red herring.

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