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100 laid-off traffic aides to be rehired during Red Line reconstruction

Updated: March 7, 2013 6:32AM

Eighteen months after laying off Loop traffic control aides, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is giving those workers another crack at government jobs, courtesy of the CTA’s $425 million Red Line reconstruction project.

The Office of Emergency Management and Communications is hiring 100 part-time traffic control aides to orchestrate the movement of shuttle buses that will be used to transport displaced Red Line passengers to the Green Line during the five-month closing.

In May, the CTA will begin rebuilding the Red Line from Cermak Road to 95th Street — a 10-mile stretch of tracks originally built in 1969.

Shuttle buses will travel up and down the Dan Ryan Expy. directly to the Green Line L from each of four Red Line stations: 95th, 87th, 79th and 69th. A local shuttle will run among those four stations.

The 100 new traffic control aides will start out as part-time employees paid $18.43 an hour. After the south leg of the Red Linereopens, they will be eligible for permanent jobs.

Last summer, 2,374 people applied for 400 jobs as part-time shuttle bus drivers.

The 100 part-time traffic control aide jobs are expected to be in high demand because 72 Loop traffic control aides were laid off in August 2011.

“It’s not ideal. It’s part time, no benefits. But it gives me more time to work with the mayor’s office to try to get them back to full-time employment,” said Matt Brandon, secretary-treasurer of Service Employees International Union Local 73, which represents the traffic control aides.

“When you’re laid off, you only have recall rights for two years. On Aug. 15, 2013, it’ll be two years after the initial layoff,” Brandon said. “The immediate goal is to get them back in employment with the city, which would extend the opportunity for them to either bid on available positions or be recalled to vacant, full-time traffic control in the future.”

Of thoses 72 laid-off aides , about 30 have been rehired. Twenty went to parking enforcement. Seven were hired as civilian detention aides in the Police Department to replace sworn officers. And three were rehired after traffic control aides retired.

Brandon said Tuesday he had been told that 25 more detention aide positions would be available soon as Emanuel continues to shift more police officers from desk jobs to street duty.

Local 73 gets first dibs on those jobs under a settlement negotiated with the city.

Last summer, the CTA announced plans to rebuild and shut down the south leg of the Red Line, inconveniencing thousands of commuters who would be offered free shuttle bus service to the Green Line and 50-cent discounts on other bus rides.

Emanuel argued that the five-month closing would save $75 million and trumps the alternative: four years of weekend-only shutdowns.

He also vowed to give minority contractors a piece of the pie; use construction savings to improve South Side stations; hire local residents to drive shuttle buses, and retain those new drivers even after the work is done.

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