The Amalgamated Transit Union and the second chance worker hoax.

Ken Franklin, Elmondo Pass, Clem Balanoff and Debra Lane of the Chicago local of the Amalgamated Transit Union representing rail line workers on Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers.

On last Friday’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers we were pleased to have Ken Franklin, Elmondo Pass, Debra Lane along with Clem Balanoff to share the state of current bargaining between the Chicago Transit Authority and Local 308 of the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Ken Franklin, the local’s president and business agent announced on our program that the local had  asked their members if they were willing to strike. 97% of those voting said yes.


One of the issues being bargained for the past 18 months is the CTA’s Second Chance program.

The program hires non-violent ex-offenders to do basic custodial work for the CTA.

It sounds good giving first time non-violent offenders a job to make their lives better. 

When you know the facts though it is not a second chance. It is little more than indentured servitude or cheap labor for the CTA.

The facts are:

Second Chance workers make $10.50 an hour.  This is less than the executive order that Rahm Emanuel signed and asked sister agencies to follow to pay workers $13.50 an hour.

Second Chance workers pay 3% of their wages to a healthcare fund but do not get healthcare.

Three strikes and you are out! 

That’s right.  If a CTA Second Chance worker is late, misses a day because of illness, needs to take care of their child or attend the funeral of a loved one, that is a strike.  Three in a one year period and you lose the job.

 Second Chance workers are not given any sick, vacation, personal or holidays.

 Participants are supposed to be limited to one year in the program and then get hired. 

The fact is that the CTA has them work on the bus side for a year then on the rail side for a year before moving them back to the bus side for an additional year.  Very few ever are made permanent and full-time.  They are treated by the CTA as simply cheap labor.

Only about 9-15% of Second Chance workers ever get a job with the CTA.  Some have been bounced around for over 3 years, making slave wages under difficult conditions.

CTA management call it an apprenticeship program. The only learning that goes on is janitorial:  How to push a mop, wipe off a seat, clean-up a spit, deal with bed bugs and human waste

 This is not a second chance but a cheap labor program for Rahm Emanuel and the CTA.

The ATU thinks the program should be a real apprenticeship program that pays a living wage, has benefits and leads to a permanent job.

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