Chicago ATU 308 CTA train operators vote in favor of strike

Chicago ATU 308 CTA train operators vote in favor of strike

http://abc7chicago.com/traffic/cta-train-operators-set-to-announce-resul...

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The Chicago Transit Authority train operators voted to authorize a srike, as contract negotiations continue.
By Sarah Schulte and Laura Podesta
Updated 1 hr 27 mins ago
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Transit Authority train operators voted to authorize a strike, their union announced Monday, as contentious contract negotiations continue.

In response, CTA management claims that the union does not have the right to strike.

Working without a contract for 18 months, train operators have apparently had enough. Amalgamated Transit Union Lcal 308 is hoping a preliminary strike vote will put some pressure on negotiations with the CTA.

"We do not want to cause the city a heart attack, but our patience has worn out. Our anger is growing," said Kenneth Franklin, president of ATU Local 308.

One-third of union members participated in the vote, which was 98 percent in favor of strike. No strike date has been set.

Calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Dorval Carter to come to the negotiating table, the union accuses the city of being disrespectful by offering proposals that Local 308 says would increase part-time workers and diminish pensions.

Train operators said their jobs have never been more stressful.

"Now with the violence that is on the uprise, the homeless we deal with on a daily basis, it is stressful as an operator," said train operator Deborah Lane.

"You have to deal with human feces in the motor cars, you have to deal with drug needles, drug addicts on the train," operator Kevin Wilson said.

While CTA riders are sympathetic, many said a strike would be devastating for their daily lives.

"It would be extraordinarily difficult to get from this location down to the Loop everyday," said rider Melissa Urbanski.

"I would probably lose my job, If couldn't get to work," said Robert Neason, a CTA rider.

The CTA said a strike can't happen because the union contract prohibits its members for striking for any reason. They call the strike vote a publicity stunt.

The transit authority said workers are not being disrespected.

"Our operators are among the highest paid in the nation. They have great wages, good working environments, good benefits and generally supportive management," said Steve Mayberry, a CTA spokesman.

Statement on ABC’s coverage of today’s ATU 308 press conference

July 10, 2017 - please forward

[warning: they're not neutral]
Statement on ABC’s coverage of today’s ATU 308 press conference

ABC at the git-go here attacks the union, going for a strategy of turning the riding public against ATU 308. Corporate media is not neutral in its reporting the news. It takes pains to turn other parts of the working class against the union. And they find their perfect interview:

"Probably lose my job, not being able to get to work. I have to ride the train. I live out south...two trains and a bus," said commuter Robert Neason. [abc7chicago]

This is why the labor movement in Chicago needs its own 21st-century media apparatus, and why it should not simply rely upon the corporate media to report things fairly. The worker quoted above would not face getting fired for missing his job due to conditions he can’t control, IF he had a strong union to represent him where he works. That is what this possible strike is really about: working people need a good union contract to protect them against unjust management decisions.

The CFL should make a public offer that it will send a union organizing team to the place where this unfortunate worker is employed, to make sure that it becomes unionized so that Robert Neason cannot be victimized unfairly if the ATU has a strike. And it would be best if the CFL also had its own robust media outlet to announce this, so that the statement isn’t undercut in some way.

The Chicago Federation of Labor had at one time its own radio station in the late 40s (WCFL) which reported on labor news, and also a newspaper, the Federation News. It has over the years allowed these two media resources to go defunct. Its sole strategy today is to rely on the ‘fairness’ of corporate media (a real throw of the dice!) and a handful of small-size social media-type pro-labor reporting outlets. It has neglected to develop any cable-tv series through utilizing the public access center CAN TV. The CFL has not invested over the years in beefing up its own, serious labor media defense strategy.

Although Labor Beat is a small media organization and is hardly the answer to filling in this gap, we would be glad to meet with and talk with any representatives of the CFL or ATU, or other unions and share what we know about producing a regular labor tv series and YouTube channel. We would also like to benefit from hearing the creative thinking on this from the rest of the labor movement.

This emerging situation over a possible ATU strike is a chance for all of us together to seriously drill down on this problem so that we are not left defenseless when ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox come after the transit union by using their media muscles to underhandedly torpedo organized labor.

In solidarity,

Larry Duncan
Labor Beat co-producer
www.laborbeat.org

abc7chicago report:
http://abc7chicago.com/traffic/cta-train-operators-set-to-announce-resul...

Labor Beat’s report: ATU 308 Preliminary Strike Vote
https://youtu.be/rrvib4rLpYo