The Chicago Transit Authority recently added 15 new rail car servicers — the latest workers to be hired full-time after graduating from a CTA apprenticeship program designed to provide a second chance to individuals in need.
These new hires, who just completed their first full week of employment, reflect the success and effectiveness of CTA’s apprenticeship initiative, which provides employment opportunities for ex-offenders, those completing drug- and alcohol-recovery programs, survivors of spousal abuse and others.
Each of the new rail car servicers has completed a full rail car servicer apprenticeship and has also participated in the bus servicer apprenticeship program. Their experience with the agency, exceptional work records and knowledge of CTA practices and procedures made them the most attractive candidates for these positions.
Under Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s leadership of the CTA, 236 apprentices participated in the rail car servicer apprenticeship program, with 194 successfully completing their employment. Of those who completed the program, 42 individuals became full-time CTA employees and an additional eight workers obtained part-time CTA employment. During that same period, according to partnering social service agencies, nearly 100 apprentices secured other employment outside of the CTA after completing the program.
“This administration has a great record of helping ex-offenders and others find a pathway back into the workforce and we continue to do that through our bus servicer apprenticeship program with our bus union, ATU Local 241,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “While we can no longer hire rail car servicer apprentices, we are still providing job opportunities for people from some of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, and we are very proud of that.”
Unfortunately, the rail car servicer apprentice program was eliminated two weeks ago by Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 308 President Robert Kelly, who refused to continue the program that was in place since 2007. CTA continues to offer up to 200 bus servicer apprenticeships, working with ATU Local 241.
“Our apprentice program is a lifeline for people who need it so desperately, especially those who leave the correctional system and return to their families, wanting to start a new life,” said Chicago Transit Board President Terry Peterson. “We are proud that we can offer a brighter future to these individuals through our bus program through this very successful initiative.”
The CTA’s program is one of the largest ex-offender retraining programs in the nation and provides job opportunities to individuals convicted of non-violent crimes, those completing drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, victims of domestic abuse, and others.