Due to the major CTA budget deficits in the past three years, the transit agency planned to layoff more than 1,100 employees in 2010. Chicago Breaking News Center says The labor union layoffs along with 18 percent reduction in bus service and 9 percent in train service were implemented in hopes of reducing the budget deficit for the following year. CTA management introduced more than $200 million in internal cuts as well as other cost savings and wanted unions to agree to salary and concessions however, unions representing CTA bus and rail workers refused since they agreed to concessions in the past.
The unions also felt that the “agency violated contract provisions pertaining to the seniority of full-time and part-time employees”. The unions argued that the CTA laid off too many full-time employees while retaining part-time employees. Arbitrator, Edwin Benn does want CTA to follow proper procedures in laying off workers based on seniority within their job classifications. 241 Local and 308 of the Amalgamated Transit leaders of the unions agreed to meet with the CTA management after Benn’s decision. CTA President Richard Rodriguez wanted to try and prevent the service cuts and wants to restore jobs. The union leaders were disappointed in the Arbitrator’s decision and requested to postpone the cuts for at least 30 days for seeking additional funding from the State or other options in general.
In September 2010, Rodriguez stated that the CTA was supposed to receive 83 million in bond proceeds and made an agreement to hold fares for both 2010 and 2011, but would have the freedom to raise fares if the state failed to pay public subsidies and capital funds. The CTA budget for 2011 was 5 percent higher than 2010’s budget, which was partly caused by a 3.5 percent increase in wages for union bus and rail employees. Labor costs make up 70 percent of the CTA’s budget.
Non-union CTA employees last received salary increases in 2006, however their wages were frozen this year and they had to take up to 18 unpaid furlough days and holidays to help manage the budget deficit. 100 non-unions jobs were cut this year, and an estimate of 70 jobs plan to be cut next year. Chicago Breaking News Center also says Rodriguez has tried to convince union workers to accept concessions to also help ease the annual budget and prevent future service cuts. Union leaders however stood strong on their decision since they had done it in the past and decided to allow more than 1,000 union members to be laid off.
In October of this year, According to Chicago Tribune the CTA laid of three media relations employees as part of an “agency-wide reorganization” to reduce the budget plan for 2012. It laid off the general manager of public affairs, manager of media relations as well as a spokeswoman leaving only four employees working on media relations under Sullivan. The $277 million budget deficit is projected to be cut down. $177 million would be from the senior-level position layoffs. The CTA is also hoping for 80 million worth of partly from agreements of concessions of union workers while also planning to use 80 million from its reserve fund.
By Amber Smith