No deal after Daley meets with CTA, unions

February 5, 2010 5:04:24 PM PST
Chicago commuters are bracing for drastic service cuts on the CTA scheduled to begin this Sunday.On Friday afternoon, Mayor Daley met with CTA management and union leaders in hopes of avoiding the cutbacks. However, no deal was reached, which is disappointing news for employees holding the 1,100 jobs set to be cut.

Click Here to see the complete list of service cuts

Commuters will also have to grapple with service cuts being made to help close a budget shortfall of more than $95 million.

Protestors rallied as the meeting between Mayor Daley and CTA and union officials was under way.

The mayor said he was hoping to convince members of the transit union to make concessions that would allow the CTA to rescind the service cuts.

But the unions say they've been making concessions for decades and a long-term solution is needed.

"If you're asking me to open my contract and give back everything we've ever negotiated, that's not going to happen," said Transit Union Local 241 Pres. Darrell Jefferson said. "It's impossible to even dream of you being able to balance your budget on the backs of the men and women that work for you."

Rich Rodriguez, head of the CTA, had no comment for ABC7 on his way into the summit. However, the agency says it did not receive an official offer of concessions from the unions presented on January 27.

The Amalgamated Transit Union says it has offered to have it members take 10 furlough days and defer scheduled wage increases for 2011 and 2012 by six months. The union also says it proposed swapping management positions in maintenance and bus operations for lower-paid union jobs.

But they are ademant about not reopening their contracts.

"The arbitrator called this a mass execution of a thousand people losing their jobs," said Robert Kelly, president of Transit Union Local 308.

The CTA is saying that without concessions from the Amalgamated Transit Union the positions -- from drivers to mechanics to administrative staff -- will be lost.

The service cuts would mean, beginning Sunday, 119 routes will see fewer buses on those routes and there would also be longer waits between buses. There will be a longer gap between 'El' trains and 41 bus routes are going to see shorter hours. Nine express bus routes will be completely eliminated.

"I do believe to a certain degree that the layoffs is an attempt to dismantle the union. And that is going on throughout this country. Union workers have benefits that have been negotiated for a period of years. I think we can go back to the '40s, before any of us here were born, that a lot of these benefits were put in place then. So the history of the benefits is very significant to us. And that is one reason why we cannot surrender things like reducing our wages and vacations and holidays. Those items are just not negotiable for us," said President Darrell Jefferson, Transit Union Local 241.

The union says the solution is to get state legislators involved and to implement a proper funding formula that is long term.

The mayor told the union leaders Friday that there is no new money coming from the state, the CTA, or any other source that is going to change the fact that there is pressure on the unions to make some concessions.

The only glimmer of hope is that, after the meeting with mayor, union leaders agreed to take Daley's message back to their members and ask for some sort of new negotiating mandate so that the concessions they say they considered making could be presented formally and officially. Perhaps, the union members would be able to vote on some of those measures and give directions to their leaders to negotiate them.

For now though, job and service cuts are on the way.