Yesterday, a distinguished group of leaders appeared at a press conference, held by the CTA, to extol the virtues of the Second Chance Program. This program; created through a collaboration of community organizations, unions and the transit agency, affords ex-offenders and disadvantaged individuals an opportunity to receive training and a pathway to employment in the regular full time workforce. This, and other programs of its kind are excellent re-entry and reintegration programs for a workforce that typically face barriers to employment.
Unfortunately, a meme is being created whereby the transit unions are being painted as the impediment to the continuation of this program. One just needs to examine the history of past labor negotiations between the CTA and its unions to see that this is an unfair categorization. The best way to keep the program going is for the CTA to bargain in good faith at the table, not in the media. The attenuation of benefits and establishment of a bi-partite, sub living wage system isn’t the way to do it. From issues with the Ventra card to the Red Line Extension debacle to the recently passed “Super TIF” bill, the CTA needs to be up front and negotiate in good faith. They and the bargaining units need to give themselves a “second chance” and insure that this worthwhile program continues.