I suspect that the CTA problem is more complicated than it looks on the surface--but it seems fairly obvious that the CTA union bosses are not helping their members by insisting on keeping their raises in place and disallowing unpaid furlough days.
Even other major labor leaders have urged the CTA union to give up the raises in order to save the jobs. Almost 1100 CTA workers will be laid off to make up for a $95.6 million budget shortfall. I bet many more than just the guy in this article would be happy to give up their raises in order to keep their jobs. The omnipresent Father Pfleger stood by CTA union workers asking the union to back the smack off.
It stinks to not get a promised raise, and it's rotten to have to take unpaid furlough days. But that's what many of us are going through these days. Many of us not only have not had raises, but have experienced economic hardships in the form of less overtime pay, fewer clients, lower wages, and unpaid vacation days.
I'm confident that CTA management is not without fault in the matter. As of a year ago, according to the Chicago Sun Times, 150 CTA managers make more than $100,000 per year. The head of marketing makes almost $200k. The CTA union president claims that the number of managers at each bus garage has increased from five in 1994 to 20 today. I have not been able to verify this claim, but if it's true, or even mostly true, then it does seem like bloated management is a big part of the problem.
Meanwhile, it's not just the 1000 laid-off workers that are paying the price. So are students and commuters across Chicago; and in some cases, minority and low-income communities are feeling the biggest hurt. Six of the nine eliminated express routes serve low-income neighborhoods on the South and West sides.
Here's my idea: Get an independent arbitrator into the room with the CTA bosses and the union bosses, with a table but no chairs. No one sits and no one leaves until the problem is solved.
I volunteer. I will need lots of Diet Coke, my brother (who can help me understand and crunch the numbers), a dry-erase board and markers, a bunch of yellow pads, and several boxes of multi-colored Ultra Fine Point Sharpies.