CTA unions threaten a bus 'slow down'

February 13, 2010 3:58:46 PM PST
New calls were issued Saturday to restore the CTA bus and train service that was cut last weekend.The RainbowPUSH Coalition and the union for many laid-off bus drivers even discussed a bus "slow down" to get their point across.

Rainbow PUSH leader Rev. Jesse Jackson says the CTA cuts amount to "economic racism." He says South Side riders have been impacted harder than those on the city's North Side.

"There will either be fair negotiations, or they'll be slow roll or no roll. The drivers will fight back," Jackson said, threatening action on behalf of laid-off CTA workers and their union representatives, if they don't feel planned talks with the transit agency are fair.

"I'm still laid off. I still have to provide for my woman. I still have to provide for bills and everything else, but I'm sitting at home," said laid-off CTA operator Tony Clayton.

Union officials say any "slow down" simply means a strict adherence to the rules, requiring no bus speeds over 35 miles per hour and not pulling off from a bus stop until a passenger is seated or holding a bus strap.

Through a statement in response, CTA officials have said:

"Any employee participating in an illegal job action will face disciplinary action up to an including discharge," according to spokesperson Noelle Gaffney.

The transit union hopes to meet with CTA officials Wednesday. The CTA wants union workers to make more cost-cutting concessions.

Union officials have refused pay cuts this year, but have agreed to furlough days and deferring pay raises starting next year.

They also want more cuts in CTA management.

"I need a three-year or five-year fix that my members don't get a lay-off notice for Christmas. That's what I need," said Darrell Jefferson of Amalgamated Transit Union 241.

Jackson also claims the cuts made affect the South Side more than the North Side.

CTA denies that.

Drivers gathered Saturday say service will get worse at the end of this month when more than 100 bus mechanics and service technicians are let go.

"You don't get an eight-hour rest, the proper rest, that's just a danger waiting to happen," said Richard Anderson.

The union also is complaining that drivers are being asked to work overtime to make up for the laid-off workers.

The transit union president claims that's costing the agency around $200,000 in extra pay just this last week.

CTA officials say, of course, there will always be overtime, but it will be less now because their workforce is smaller.