Transit workers demonstrate against CTA’s attempt to fire bus driver
Chicago, IL – After several takeback contracts in a row, the imposition of part-time status on new hires, sub-par health insurance with an ever growing price tag that eats up wage increases, and being left to fend for themselves during the pandemic with no PPE or hazard pay, CTA workers in Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241/308 are fighting back. They've organized themselves into a caucus called the Justice Coalition. This rank-and-file caucus publishes a newsletter called Finally Got the News, which was inspired by the documentary of the same name, about the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in Detroit in the late 1960s.
The Justice Coalition has been holding Hour of Power demonstrations at different locations over the past year that have developed a militant core in ATU 241/308.
The latest Hour of Power demonstration was held on September 29 at the Chicago Garage on 642 N Pulaski, on the West Side. The incident that sparked this demonstration was CTA's attempt to fire a bus operator whose work-related repetitive stress injury has left him unable to do his job.
Local 241 bus operator and Justice Coalition activist Aundra Thompson said, “We're here to support Eric Struch and other brothers like him who're being disciplined and fired unfairly.” Local 308 retiree Kathryn Strzelecki said, “When I got hired in 1984, there was no accelerated discipline. People did not get fired from the CTA.” Speaking about the CTA policy of accelerated discipline, 308 activist Eric Basir said, “Why instill fear in people? That hurts the workers, and that hurts the people we serve – the people of Chicago.”
There was a heavy police and CTA management presence at this Hour of Power, but it didn't intimidate the demonstrators from getting across their message that they would no longer tolerate the Authority's arbitrary disciplinary policies. There was an outpouring of support from Local 241 members at Chicago Garage as well as from riders and passersby. This Hour of Power was definitely a success.