Thursday, February 25, 2010

CTA union files work-rule complaints

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Chicago Transit Authority labor leaders have reacted strongly to CTA management demands for “givebacks,” and have filed work-rule complaints while promising to follow up with lawsuits if necessary.

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The move by the Amalgamated Transit Union, representing CTA bus and rail employees, ended any hope of quickly resolving any service cut issues that affect numerous bus routes, seven of eight rail lines, and more than 1,000 transit employees who lost their jobs and benefits earlier this month. CTA faces a projected $95.6 million budget deficit.

The union filings seeking arbitration on 10 alleged work-rule violations by the CTA will be followed by state and federal lawsuits this week, said Joseph Pass, an attorney for the bus drivers and bus mechanics union, Local 241 of the Amalgamated Transit Union. If the class-action lawsuits are successful, the CTA would be on the hook to pay "millions of dollars" to CTA employees who were required to undergo training without pay, Pass said. The CTA's actions violate the federal Fair Labor Standards Act,he said.

CTA says the charges are unfounded. Employees sign a workbook if they are available to work overtime, CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said. "In other words, employees basically volunteer," she said.