Javier Perez’s full speech to the CTA board

It’s probably too late for me to post this, seeing as the Chicago Transit Authority board approved the budget on Tuesday, but here is the full text of Javier Perez’s speech to the board on November 7, 2011, which I wrote about in “There is no typical CTA rider“. But it’s not really too late because the union workers and the management haven’t agreed to the concessions the CTA budget depends on.


Javier Perez, trustee of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241, speaks while Gregory P. Longhini, Assistant Secretary of the Board, moderates.

Good evening to the public, our riders, the Board and membership of Locals 241 and 308. Good evening Chairman Peterson, Mr. Claypool and members of the public and community groups.

At the last hearing I addressed what I called Mr. Claypool’s myths attacking CTA employees and ATU [Amalgamated Transit Union] members. If CTA’s Budget is based on these fables there are big problems ahead for all of us. A house built on sand will not stand and a budget built on myths will not survive.

Most employers faced with an expanded customer base, increased revenue and being able to do so with more productive employees would be ecstatic. Most employers would reward or at least congratulate their employees for doing more with less. In fact the former head of the CTA did so.

International Vice President Marcellus Barnes* and I had a brief meeting with Mr. Claypool, we both left with hope that there was a change we could believe in.

Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, we heard the mthys and saw the tired old tactics that have failed the public. Tactics that Governors Walker [Wisconsin] and Kasich [Ohio] have obtained a lot of press for but with no results.

Tactics that seek to scapegoat CTA employees, some who fall into the group called the greatest generation, and also blaming other employees who served their country in Vietnam, and some who have served or with sons and daughters currently serving in the Middle East. As the John Fogerty song says “we are not the fortunate one”. We are the 99%. All our members who served and others are the employees who have made the CTA more productive.

Some may find it in vogue to scapegoat public employees be they bus operators, maintenance, general office personnel, teachers, firefighters or police. Some may find it in vogue to scapegoat and decry public investment. Let all remember, the moon landing, the federal highway system, the Internet are but a few examples of how public employees and public investment has helped our country grow and create jobs while doing so.

The Chicago Transit Authority, a musical group now known as Chicago once asked, “Does anyone really know what time it is?”
Isn’t time to leave the scape goating behind?
Isn’t it time to work in partnership with all CTA employees and the Chicago community?
Isn’t time to roll up our sleeves and work together to help our nation reduce our dependence on foreign oil?

We the members of Lcoal 241 in concert with Local 308 and other CTA employees are the artery that carries the life blood of Chicago.

Together we can be innovative and creative in providing a service built on a sound budget. We invite you to belly up to the table. Whatever your choice Local 241 and our sister Local in concert with the public know that together we can and together we will.

*Barnes is also a trustee of Local 241.