Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Local 241, Executive Board Member and Union Steward Fired by CTA for Enforcing Union Contract

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Local 241, Executive Board Member and Union Steward Fired by CTA for Enforcing Union Contract
*** Update/Press Release ***
Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Local 241, Executive Board Member and Union Steward Fired by CTA for Enforcing Union Contract

CTA Headquarters, 567 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL
CTA bus and rail workers, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Locals 241 (Bus) and 308 (Rail) Officials, Chicago Teacher Union members and community supporters held a press conference today at the CTA headquarters in support of ATU Local 241 elected Executive Board Member, Union Steward and 10 year veteran Bus Operator Erek Slater in his fight to stop CTA from firing him for trying to uphold the democratic rights of union members.

The hearing for termination of the Executive Board Member, Erek Slater, was held at 10 am. The CTA refused, in blatant violation of labor law, to recognize that Mr. Slater was acting as a union steward when he initiated an inquiry into a possible violation of the contract on the request of his coworker. Mr. Slater was vigorously defended by his union steward as well as all of the vice-presidents of ATU local 241 who strongly opposed the position of the CTA. The 1st Vice President of ATU local 308 was denied access to the hearing, according to Mr. Slater.

Mr. Slater stated, "CTA management told us that I was fired for "insubordination" because I told a manager to "cease and desist" from breaking our contract while acting in my capacity and responsibility as a union steward defending our collective bargaining agreement. This is a declaration of war against workers' rights to organize and act collectively." The ATU members were clear at the press conference that they intend to continue to defend their rights for safe working conditions and safe transit for the people of Chicago. They expressed the dire need to fight against the CTA's irresponsible and illegal attacks and to continue to build a mass movement of union and community members throughout Chicago.

At the press conference prior to the hearing, CTA workers spoke about the daily indignities of their hard working conditions including unfair and unsafe scheduling and inadequate break times – “[Often we] have to be out of the bus terminal two minutes after we’ve arrived. How can you pee when you’ve arrived [for] two minutes? You can’t; you have to get your passengers off the bus and then back on again,” said Slater at the conference.

Djuan Williamson, a part-time CTA bus driver, spoke about the incredibly stressful working conditions CTA bus drivers are subject to every day – “You have Uber, Lyft, bikes, red lights, speed cameras, you have the highest crime rate in the country. You have murderers, gangbangers, getting on the bus with you. The police officers, they have guns, we have nothing. So who’s afraid of who? The police are afraid that they might get killed. But yet they started me at minimum wage. Eight dollars and fifty cents an hour, at minimum wage. A Vietnam era veteran. I lost my business, I came here to work. Two and a half years ago, as part-timer. I’m still a part timer....”

Ed Hershey, a teacher at Lindblom Elementary and member of the Chicago Teachers Union also spoke of how he met drivers at Mr. Slater’s garage who complained of management intimidation after attending a joint union meeting he attended – “I’m not surprised by this at all. That they would attack somebody who wants to defend public services, who wants to draw the connections between our struggles. We teachers are in struggle right now, with Mayor Emanuel, and apparently they are attacking Erek for pointing that out to his coworkers. I’m outraged by this attack. All teachers unions should be outraged by this attack and we give our full support to Brother Erek.”

Lastly, workers also talked about CTA’s practice of sending private investigators, at taxpayer expense, to bus driver, rail operators and other union members’ homes to make sure their Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) time off was justified. Workers are not paid for FMLA leave.

Charlie Peacock, ATU Local 308, 1st Vice President spoke out, “We are here standing in solidarity with Erek: “An attack on one is an attack on all!”

For further information, interview requests, contact Rehmah Sufi (773) 892-6240 or

*** Update ***

We will be attempting to meet with CTA president Carter tomorrow morning at 9am at CTA HQ (567 West Lake Street). We will be demanding that these trumped up charges be dropped and that CTA management respect transit workers for the hard and important work we do. We are calling all transit workers, our family members, workers, unionists and community members to spread the word and be present with us tomorrow morning. There will be a press conference at 9:30 am. Because of the short notice, we haven't been able to contact everyone. If you or your organization would like to speak at the press conference, please let us know before 6am tomorrow morning so that we can try to get out a press release with your organization's name.

Thank you so much for all the phone calls, emails, fb messages and texts in support. We hope this moment is an opportunity to build the consciousness, confidence and unity of working people. See you tomorrow morning!

Dear Friends of Transit Workers,

I am asking for your assistance in an urgent matter. On Friday, February 5, I was told by my employer, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), that I could not drive my scheduled route as a city bus driver because they were initiating proceedings to fire me. I am a CTA public bus driver of 10 years and an elected shop steward and executive board member of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 241. I was elected in February 2015 to represent over 600 working families at the North Park CTA bus garage.

I am being accused of a “behavioral violation” because I responded to a coworker's request to investigate a possible violation of our Collective Bargaining Agreement. This is only the latest in a continuous string of attacks and intimidation against workers of the CTA and our union.

My coworkers and I need your help in taking a stand against these attacks.

Yesterday, at a preliminary discipline hearing, in spite of a robust defense and with many coworkers and union officers showing their solidarity through calls and their presence, the Chicago Transit Authority instructed me to attend a final termination hearing on Thursday morning (Feb 11) where they plan to fire me. Management is accusing me of interfering with a manager’s orders when I acted as the elected union steward to investigate management’s breaking of our contract. They were trying to force workers to send their coworkers to see the manager. The false allegations are a blatant attempt to remove a union officer and intimidate workers from using our legitimate authority and collective power to defend ourselves, our families and our communities.

These false charges are an escalation in a documented history of attacks on our union’s rights. Because a union steward is being threatened with discharge for attempting to protect our contract and our members, this is an assault against our 10,000 member union and its long history. Because this attack is occurring after our contract has expired and during contract negotiations – alongside a state-wide and national attack on union and democratic rights – this is part of the continuing assault on the entire working class.

We are asking for your support to defend democratic rights in the workplace by doing the following:

Call the CTA (888 Your CTA: 888 968-7282) and demand:

“Hands off the workers’ union! Stop the firing of union steward Erek Slater on trumped up charges for defending his coworkers and our public transit service. Respect transit workers for the hard and important work they do!”

Or go to
where you can email the paragraph above.

Write to or ask to speak with:
CTA President Dorval Carter
CTA VP of Bus Operations Patricia Miller
CTA VP of Labor Relations Catherine Lunde

You can also call our union office to offer your support and assistance at (312) 341-1733

Towards the confidence, consciousness and unity of working people,

-Erek Slater
10 year veteran CTA public transit bus driver
Elected Shop Steward and Executive Board Member of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 241