Chicago ATU 308/241 CTA workers plan contract protest, but no service disruptions

Chicago ATU 308/241 CTA workers plan contract protest, but no service disruptions
CHICAGO NEWS 12/20/2016, 01:02pm
CTA workers plan contract protest, but no service disruptions

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Jordan Owen
@byjordanowen | email
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CTA workers will take part in a “day of action” across the city Wednesday to demand a fair contract, but do not plan to inconvenience commuters.

The day will begin with a protest at 8:30 a.m. outside the Jackson Lewis law firm at 150 N. Michigan Ave.; continue at noon with a rally outside CTA headquarters at 567 W. Lake St.; and conclude with a rally at the 95th Street Red Line station at 4:30 p.m.

Workers from Amalgamated Transit Unit Locals 241 and 308 will be taking part on their own time, and will not be walking off the job, according to ATU spokeswoman Abigail Agriesti. “There will be no disruption of service or inconveniences to commuters.”

“Workers demand to be treated with respect and will not stand for these outrageous, regressive and discriminatory contract offers,” Tommy Sams, president of Local 241, said in a statement. “We will not be silent and let the CTA get away with this.”

According to workers, the CTA proposals include no pay raises, elimination of two holidays per year, discrimination against ATU mechanics compared to other mechanics employed by the CTA, an 18 percent increase on health insurance premiums, and unlimited subcontracting.

However, the CTA issued a statement Tuesday afternoon calling some of the union’s claims untrue.

“Since January, the CTA has been engaged in a productive dialogue with the ATU about a new contract. In fact, the two sides have met more than 20 times since January—and plan to meet again later this week,” according to the transit agency’s statement.

“The ATU’s claims are wholly misleading and, in some cases, outright false. With negotiations ongoing, it’s disappointing that the union has opted to spread this level of disinformation,” according to the statement.

“The CTA is committed to discussing a contract that provides fair wages and benefits while ensuring the agency continues to operate as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.”

The CTA said its union workers are the “second-highest paid in the nation, and in their last contract received a wage increase of 10.25 percent over four years.”

“The CTA took its sweet time to even come to the table. Months elapsed before the CTA even showed its majority workforce the respect of just sitting down to negotiate. Evidently that’s what Dorval Carter thinks of us,” Sams said. The union is also protesting the CTA’s use of law firm Jackson Lewis at the negotiating table, saying the firm is “notorious” for busting union workers.

The CTA said it would not discuss the negotiations in detail.

“Because we respect the integrity of the contract negotiation process, we won’t get into a lot of specifics about the proposals currently being discussed. But we can say that CTA continues to negotiate in good faith with the union, and looks forward to continuing productive discussions,” the statement said.