No contract, no union raises, so no fare hike - for now

Bad news: The CTA and its unions haven’t made much progress on negotiating new work rules.

Good news: The CTA has saved enough money from not having to fund a 3 percent raise that it won’t have to raise fares on July 1, as was feared.

That’s according to a report by Greg Hinz at Crain’s Chicago Business:

According to Mr. Claypool, the agency saved some money with this winter’s mild weather, which made it much easier to keep buses on the streets and trains moving on the el. But the biggest reason, he suggested, is that the agency budgeted for — but has not yet begun to pay — 3 percent raises to union workers.

In other words, no contract. No raises paid. More cash flow. Doomsday delayed.

And here’s the word from the union boss:

“Is (Mr. Claypool) going to get these concessions? Probably not,” Mr. Kelly says. “Are there things that would be mutually beneficial that could be done? Maybe.”

“I’m an optimist,” he adds. But it may be inevitable that the talks end up in binding arbitration, where they often do when it comes to negotiations between the CTA and its unions.

All-in-all, this is good news.


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  • I understand the union members don't want to get railroaded into a bad deal (no pun intended), but to be so inflexible and not offer ANY concessions is just ridiculous and a gives them zero credibility. They just don't care about helping the CTA be more efficient or save money.
    I believe part of the problem is that the workers who will be laid off are always the ones that were most recently hired, and therefore the workers with more seniority will always vote for the plan that protects their jobs and benefits at the expense of their co-workers. I bet if any employee could potentially be laid-off you would see a lot more cooperation from the union.

  • In reply to joeconey:

    That was the dynamic in 2010. I'm not so sure that is the dynamic now. One difference is that there was a contract in force in 2010. The only real dispute was over the interpretation of the seniority provision of that contract, i.e. those on the full time board apparently got laid off first.

    However, I did say that any new contract was eventually going to arbitration, so this doesn't change that viewpoint.

    Also, Claypool is sticking his head in the sand if he thinks that an arbitrator wouldn't award a retroactive pay increase, especially if CTA budgeted for it.

    The more interesting dynamic was somebody posting, and someone else providing a verifiable source on that CTA has a request for bids on privatizing management at the 74th St. Garage. You can look at my post (#8 in that thread) on my take, including that that indicates that Claypool & Co. have run out of ideas, if they ever had any.

  • Great information concerning whether outsourcing all or a portion of the employees at the bus shop.

    Can the newly passed infrastructure trust be used as a catalyst for private takeover of the bus yard (similar to what was discussed for Bombardier's construction of a railcar facility)? If so, then CTA Leadership and the Union's inability to gain traction to negotiate reduced costs and productivity improvement may serve as the opening required to force the issue of labor cost controls.

    The Mayor's team has used the stick to bring the recyclable collection with Streets and San situation to a head - improve and lower costs or else I will (effectively)and it has had a desirable impact. Entertaining qualified companies who can perform the same work should occur for all appropriate city functions.

  • In reply to Exit9-Ed:

    Although the administration says that the Infrastructure Trust also involves CTA, the question would be how the CTA would pay back the trust's "investment."

    The example given with regard to the trust's first project is energy savings, in that either the city pays Comm Ed, or gets energy savings used to pay back the trust for the cost of the upgrades, and supposedly keeps the difference once that cost is paid off.

    The 74th Garage proposal has a split of savings between CTA and the proposed contractor, if you think that is analogous.

    The rail yard "$1 lease" was to be in consideration for a $300 million no-bid contract, so at least one can see what the proposed "consideration" was there.

    So. maybe all these pieces can be put together, but given that CTA is chronically short of capital money, and already has all sorts of leases and stuff detailed at the end of its budget, I don't see where it comes up with the billion or two for the Red Line extension, assuming that it is not funded by the feds and the Infrastructure Trust decides to invest in it. I'm assuming that CTA would not put up a special "toll booth" where it would cost another $5.00 to ride south of 95th, even though outer zone fares have been imposed in the past.

    Maybe getting back to joeconey's original point, the distinction this time is not that union members would be laid off, but that fares would be raised. Union members certainly don't care about that. And since the private manager would only be a liaison between the suits at 567 W. Lake St. and the union, it wouldn't be in any position to force work rule changes if the arbitrator didn't accept them. Note also, the proposal is for CTA to pay the private manager, not that the private manager would pay for the right to control that garage.

  • I have no proof other than the Mayor making too big a deal about being "transparent" on the trust so I can only speculate he has other thoughts of how to flat out reduce costs for CTA with this new instrument. We'll find out as more information is revealed.

    As an aside, CTA's HQ received LEED platinum status; saving water and energy costs. I did find it interesting that 'only' 75% of the employees at the HQ actually take public transit to work. My own experiences working downtown, more than 95% of the employees took CTA/Metra/SouthShore to work.

  • In reply to Exit9-Ed:

    There were the stories on Fox Chicago a couple of years ago about a number of CTA employees abusing handicap placards to park free near headquarters.

    Probably the only way they know is how many have CTA passes and the computer records them using them, such as the stories about 7 years ago that Sheila Gregory didn't use hers.

    And since the CTA Press Release indicates that HQ was always LEED compliant to some extent, and this level was achieved by the private building manager, that won't be the project.

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