Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CTA talks and free rides for seniors

CTA Tattler has a post about the talks between CTA President Richard Rodriguez and ATU Local 241 President Darrell Jefferson:
For his part, CTA President Richard Rodriguez was very respectful and somewhat conciliatory to Darrell Jefferson, ATU Local 241 president. On WTTW's Chicago Tonight show Tuesday, Rodriguez said he respects the position of the union -- that it doesn't want to reopen the contract for further negotiation. But he asked them to do so anyway.

Meanwhile, Jefferson backed off a bit from yesterday's strike talk, saying, "It's not something we're advocating." Of course, Rodriguez then reminded him that any strike would be illegal. And it "would only serve to harm riders and interfere with the public's right to transit," the CTA said in a separate statement.

Rodriguez indicated he would be happy with even small concessions.
if the union gave up just one vacation day, the CTA would save $3 million, he said. And he reminded the union that "we haven't asked [the union to do a] single thing that we [non-union workers] haven't already done.

But Jefferson wouldn't budge. When asked why he won't negotiate with the CTA, Jefferson said, "The union can't sit down and talk because it would indicate a negotiation, which my members don't want to do."
Are you groaning? That last paragraph well what can I say. It's simple posturing and nothing gets done at all! In the meanwhile we still have to deal with the service cuts. Thankfully not as bad as they're portrayed in the media however I'm only speaking for myself.

BTW, you can watch this segment of Chicago Tonight with the ATU Union Rep and the CTA President here

According to the CapFax, a bill passed in the state House may change the whole free rides for seniors program. Of course the bill has to pass the state Senate and then be signed by the Governor.
The House has overhwelmingly passed a bill to get rid of free rides for all seniors, regardless of income. 83 members voted “Yes.” If the bill becomes law (not guaranteed yet), seniors enrolled in the Circuit Breaker program would still be able to ride free.
I would like to continue following this. There may be a will in Springfield to address free rides for seniors that was injected into transit bailout legislation in 2008 by then Governor Rod Blagojevich. Unfortunately before any attempts to raise fares last year or in the light of service cuts at CTA there was no will by Gov. Pat Quinn to address the free rides for seniors. I hope for the best, but not sure if there is a will to get this bill through.

UPDATE 2:19 PM More about the state House vote from the Chicago Sun-Times:
The Illinois House voted overwhelmingly today to scale back the free-rides-for-seniors program on public transit systems that ex-Gov. Blagojevich put in place.

The House voted 83-27, with three other representatives voting “present,” to move legislation pushed by Rep. Suzanne Bassi (R-Palatine) on to the Illinois Senate.

Under Bassi’s plan, low-income seniors still could ride public buses and trains for free, but more-affluent seniors would pay half-fare. Anyone making under $27,610 a year or a couple making $36,635 would continue to be able to ride for free.

Bassi said the move would save the cash-strapped Regional Transportation Authority $37 million a year. The transit agency is running a roughly $90 million annual deficit.
Link via Progress Illinois.

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