CTA rail workers’ union threatens strike, CTA claims a strike would be illegal
Union officials have voiced concern over contract issues such as the CTA seeking higher worker contributions toward health insurance and the elimination of “inefficient practices.”
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, which represents Chicago Transit Authority, or CTA, railway workers that operate the Chicago L and other rail system workers, announced on July 10 that they had voted in favor of a strike in an unofficial vote, according to the Chicago Tribune. Ninety-eight percent of union members who voted approved of a potential strike. The union and the CTA are currently negotiating a new contract, after their previous contract expired over 18 months ago.
The CTA responded, saying that a CTA railway strike is illegal under state law because the collective bargaining agreement between the union and the CTA prohibits it, according to the Tribune. Additionally, the CTA argues, CTA railway workers serve an “essential service” and thus a strike is illegal because it would be a danger to the public.
The key issues at stake in contract negotiations are workers’ health insurance costs, work conditions such as work hours, and practices such as days off for birthdays and work anniversaries, according to Tribune reporting. Currently, new CTA railway workers pay either $60 or $70 biweekly for individual coverage and $110 or $130 biweekly for family coverage, depending on their choice of plan. Union president Kenneth Franklin called the CTA’s proposal for larger worker contributions “disrespectful” and “a real sore spot,” according to the Tribune.
The CTA is negotiating the contract in an attempt to save money as it is in a very poor financial position. Its pension system is only 59 percent funded and it owes over $6 billion in long-term obligations. The Tribune reported that the spokesman Brian Steele described the agencies negotiations as “in good faith” as it attempts to increase efficiency.