CTA and rail union agree to reinstate apprentice program for car cleaners

More than a month after an apprentice program ended, the CTA and ATU Local 308 have agree to bring it back, and give employment opportunities to ex-offenders, people completing substance-abuse programs, victims of spousal abuse and others.

The 65 apprentices no doubt will help the CTA tackle its ongoing problem with dirty rail cars. The issue for the union was the lower pay and lack of benefits for the apprentices. But perhaps the union gave in when the CTA asked motormen to start picking up garbage in the cars at the end of their run. I don’t really know if that rule has been rescinded. Maybe iBill can let us know.

In a statement, the CTA noted the reach of the apprenticeship programs:

Combined with a similar program introduced last year with ATU Local 241 offering 200 bus servicer apprenticeships, the reinstatement of the rail car servicer program restores CTA’s apprentice program to 265 total positions. CTA’s apprenticeship initiative is one of the largest ex-offender retraining programs in the nation, and has provided job opportunities to more than 800 ex-offenders convicted of non-violent crimes, individuals completing drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, victims of domestic abuse, and others.

Under Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s CTA administration, 76 apprentices have been hired into full- time positions with the CTA, in addition to dozens of private-sector placements with the assistance of social service agencies such as The Cara Program.

Congrats to the CTA and union for getting it together on this one.

VenusLa'V Caston, seen at work on Thursday, December 19, 2013, is an ex-offender who works as a CTA apprentice cleaning rail cars in Chicago. She is one of dozens of employees who will be out of work next month when the program ends. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

VenusLa’V Caston, seen at work on Thursday, December 19, 2013, is an ex-offender who works as a CTA apprentice cleaning rail cars in Chicago. She is one of dozens of employees who will be out of work next month when the program ends. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

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  • KO: any clue where/to whom one could drop a thank you e-mail regarding this reinstatement? The CTA & Union should really feel the warm fuzzy for this so they won't go dropping the program again anytime soon.

  • In reply to PredictiveAnalytics:

    Since it was that the union backed down, I don't think that Robert Kelly wants any warm fuzzies, but that he doesn't get ousted in the next election. I don't know if there is a Karen Lewis among the rail employees.

  • In reply to PredictiveAnalytics:

    Predictive: Just write to CTA prez Forrest Claypool and union chief Robert Kelly.

  • There seems to be a very big change to the apprentice program hidden in plain sight. I wonder if that is how the CTA got the Union to agree to reinstate the program?

    Previously, the program was just for ex-offenders -- felons with non-violent convictions. Now the program is described as a "second-chance program.....that provides employment opportunities for ex-offenders, people completing substance-abuse programs, victims of spousal abuse and others." (from CTA release)

    The inclusion of people IN substance abuse programs is new, as is the inclusion of victims of spousal abuse.

    The inclusion of victims of domestic violence (the more universal term) in this program is a very new twist, but it certainly seems like a worthy change. It just seems poor word choice to lump them in with convicted ex-felons getting a "second chance" -- almost like it's the domestic violence victims' fault for getting getting in that situation.

    And according to the CTA's website, applicants must be released from a substance abuse program, not still completing one.

    I wonder if the Union was pushing for inclusion of more categories of applicants in the program, and the CTA didn't want to expand? Or if the CTA wanted those changes and the Union was pushing back?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I'm sure it had nothing to do with anything you said.

    It is pretty clear that it was what Kevin said: the union was not happy with having jobs at maybe half pay cutting into the bargaining unit, but was less happy when told that the $31.31/hour motormen have to clean the cars.

    I can assure you that the ATU is not a social service agency.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Jack may be right that the Union was not the reason behind the change in the program but the program's focus was definitely expandedd according to the press release and news reports. I wonder if eligible spousal abuse victims will have to go thru the same job readiness programs as the ex-felons.

  • The deal was made so operators/motormen would no longer be harrassed and required to clean their train, something that our anti-labor, anti-union, blogger, Kevin O'Neil seemed to have no problem with.

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