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Another ‘Hour of Power’ at Chicago Transit Authority

By staff |
March 6, 2021
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Chicago transit workers are fighting back.
Chicago transit workers are fighting back. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Chicago, IL - The time for action is now. At least that is the opinion of workers at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). Some of these workers formed the Justice Coalition, which held their second “Hour of Power” on February 23 at the Southside “L” Train 95th Street terminal. The demonstration called for hazard pay for CTA workers, no concession in the upcoming union contracts and safe working conditions.

“Safe working conditions means safe riding conditions,” said CTA bus driver Eric Struch. Struch is also a member of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 241. Struck stressed the importance of solidarity in the upcoming contract negotiations. “We are sick and tired of going backwards. The Justice Coalition seeks to unite bus drivers with train operators in ATU Local 308. Our fight is not just for a living wage, but also for the safety of everyone.”

To accomplish these goals, the demonstration also made calls for union democracy, including restarting monthly union meetings virtually. Looking on the multinational demonstration, former ATU Local 241 President Tommy Sams remembered the 1968 fights with CTA and ATU to hire more African Americans: “While some were afraid as they undertook this action, they all recognized that there is power in numbers. That is one of the main reasons they were successful.”

Since that time, transit has changed dramatically - even the composition of the local union has changed. Union workers are close to 40% women and over 90% oppressed nationality (Black and Latino).

“If we called it racism when the Caucasians held office and as a result [of their actions], public transit services showed disparity in certain neighborhoods,” Sams continued, “what do we call it when people of color continue this behavior with greater intensity? The riding public needs to know the pressures that CTA frontline employees work under daily. That's why we're here today."

A major part of the demonstration was outreach to the riding public with copies of a Fight Back! article about the previous Hour of Power demonstration in December.

According to Chicago ATU dissident publication Finally Got the News, ATU Local 234’s Forward caucus in Philadelphia declared their own Hour of Power at the same time. It is important for workers in different cities, states and countries to support each other when they demonstrate. That is called solidarity!

The Justice Coalition and Finally Got the News plan on keep on fighting. The next Hour of Power demonstration will be at CTA’s Howard Street Red Line L train terminal on the North Side.