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CTA bus drivers, motormen OK new contract with 10.25% pay hike over 4 years

Updated: January 21, 2013 4:08PM



City bus drivers and motormen Wednesday ratified a new contract packing a 10.25 percent pay boost over four years for union workers and $50 million in annual savings for the Chicago Transit Authority.

Amalgamated Transit Union officials called the vote historic because it was the first time in more than two decades that both bus and rail unions had voted to approve contracts, rather than leaving the decision up to an arbitrator.

“I’m very happy. We’ve done something that’s not been done in a long time,’’ said ATU Local 308 President Robert Kelly, representing rail workers.

About 60 percent of voting union members approved the deal, voting 2,349 to 1,545, Kelly said.

CTA officials said the agreement contained work-rule changes, reduced holiday pay and slower wage growth critical to balancing its $1.39 billion budget.

Union officials touted the agreement as “significant progress’’ in areas that had not changed for as many as 25 years. It expands the number of employees protected from layoff, provides maternity pay for the first time and increases shift-differential wages, short-term disability payments, life insurance and allowances for uniforms and shoes.

The four-year pact covers more than 7,000 members of ATU Local 241, representing bus workers, and Local 308, representing rail workers.

For Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the deal ensures CTA labor peace beyond the 2015 mayoral election. Ending long-fought negotiations, it spans January 2012 through December 31, 2015.

Under the retroactive agreement, by July 1, 2013, union workers will receive three pay raises totaling 3.75 percent. Two more raises by the following July 1 will total 3 percent. The last pair of pay raises, in 2015, will total 3.5 percent.

However, those working an eight-hour holiday shift would be paid for 16 hours of work, down from the current 20 hours. New hires in training would receive 50 percent of their ultimate pay instead of the current 65 percent. Employee pension contributions also would increase to help the CTA battle its ballooning pension tab.

In the bus yards Wednesday, one key point of contention was the increase in health-care costs and eventual elimination of less expensive HMO options.

CTA President Forrest Claypool told CTA board members Tuesday that the deal addressed health-care contributions that had been “frozen for a decade.’’

“Ninety-nine percent of the country would kill to have a health care plan like the city’s and ours is now comparable,’’ Claypool said.



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