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Chicago: Transit workers demand bathroom facilities fit for humans

By Eric Struch |
April 7, 2022
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Chicago CTA workers are fighting back.
Chicago CTA workers are fighting back. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Chicago, IL - The Chicago Transit Justice Coalition is a rank-and-file caucus of Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) workers in Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241 and 308.

The Justice Coalition sees union democracy as something only a rank-and-file movement can bring about, so they have been helping to organize a series of public demonstrations where Local 241/308 members and their supporters can let CTA management, the riding public and their union sisters and brothers know about the conditions they face at work every day.

One of the problems CTA bus operators have to deal with is the lack of acceptable bathroom facilities at terminals - operators are forced to use literal port-a-john, even in sub-zero temperatures. CTA President Dorval Carter said there's not enough money in the budget for cost-of-living raises or actual bathrooms, but somehow the bean-counters at headquarters at 567 W. Lake found enough money to give him a 33% raise last year.

In response to rank-and-file outrage around these and other issues, the Justice Coalition organized a demonstration on Saturday, April 2. At least fifteen Local 241/208 sisters and brothers turned out in uniform in the cold, pouring rain at the bus terminal at 67th and South Shore on the city's South Side.

At this powerful demonstration, Justice Coalition members ripped into CTA bosses, letting it be known that would no longer be tolerating these conditions. Some questioned whether it was racist discrimination that was behind CTA's inaction around their demands, since the majority of Local 241/308 workers are Black and Latino.

Demonstrators also talked about this action being an example of the increased mood of militancy in the multinational working class, citing the recent success of the unionizing drive at Amazon. Justice Coalition members pointed out that between the CARES, CRRSA, and ARP Acts, CTA has gotten more than $2,000,000,000 in bailouts, so CTA President Carter has no business talking about how the Authority doesn't have the money to give workers raises that keep up with runaway inflation or to build bathroom facilities that are fit for human usage.

Justice Coalition organizers say this is only one of many demonstrations they plan on organizing to keep the pressure on CTA bosses.

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