New CTA budget could bring layoffs

November 2, 2009 (CHICAGO) CTA union workers are also being asked to make concessions. Monday, the union addressed the agency's budget problems.

Union leaders met with the CTA on Friday and characterized it as an information gathering session. The two sides aren't scheduled to get back together until November 18, which is nearly a week after the CTA board is to vote on its budget.

"I'm definitely looking at everything I can to avert these layoffs," said Darrell Jefferson, ATU 241 president.

ATU Local 241 would absorb most of the CTA's threatened layoffs. The CTA says there will have to be layoffs and fare hikes if unionized workers won't consider pay freezes, furlough days and pension relief.

Local 241's leaders called a news conference Monday to say there will be no give-backs on any of those issues. There have been sacrifices in the past, but every year, they say, brings a new doomsday scenario, and enough is enough.

"Laying off people and you're still heavy in management. I think you're asking for a war more than layoffs," Jefferson said.

The unions say they may mount a legal challenge to the layoffs and aren't ruling out the possibility of job actions if the layoffs were to go forward.

The CTA says any layoffs it would make are borne of economic necessity, would be within the terms of its contracts, and if the unions were really interested in lessoning job cuts, they'd be willing to come back to the bargaining table before November 12.

"The CTA only wants you to hear what they have to say. They don't want you to bring solutions to the table," said Jefferson.

The CTA sought help in Springfield during the now-ended fall session but didn't get very far. A proposal that would have cutback the seniors-ride-free program in exchange for a temporary freeze on fare hikes eventually came apart.

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