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CTA, Rail Workers Union Reach Agreement To Reinstate Apprentice Worker Program

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 13, 2014 7:10PM

Photo credit: Victor Duarte

Chicago Transit Authority announced Thursday the rail agency reached an agreement with the union representing its rail workers to reinstate the apprentice program that employs ex-offenders to handle spot-cleanings of rail cars. CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski told Chicagoist the agreement with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 goes into effect this weekend, meaning some trains will have some clean hobo corners.

Hosinski said CTA and the rail union continued discussions about reinstating the program even after the agency ended it Jan. 31. CTA President Forrest Claypool praised the new agreement. “This program provides benefits to our transit customers by supplementing the cleaning work of our permanent crews, but also provides a great benefit to our society. By getting ex-offenders into the workforce, the CTA is able to help Chicagoans increase self-sufficiency and reduce recidivism.”

Amalgamated Transit Union 308 President Robert Kelly, who was criticized by CTA and special interest groups for allowing the program to end, said the deal “is a win-win situation and we can now move forward.”

The reinstatement of the program, along with a similar one for buses, restores CTA’s apprentice program to 265 total positions. The program has provided over 800 ex-felons with job opportunities and a chance at a better life. Seventy-six people who participated in the program have gone on to permanent employment with CTA since Mayor Rahm Emanuel became mayor.