The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 308 have agreed to reinstate a second-chance program — rail car servicer apprentices — that provides employment opportunities for ex-offenders, people completing substance-abuse programs, victims of spousal abuse and others — a second-chance program that has already helped hundreds of Chicagoans.
The program, which had ended on Dec. 31, 2013, will be fully reinstated, with 65 apprenticeships available. The apprentices perform a wide range of cleaning and detailing of CTA rail cars — giving CTA customers a cleaner, more comfortable commute while offering employment to hard-to-employ individuals who are able to learn valuable job skills and build resumes and careers.
“We are pleased to work with ATU Local 308 to bring back a program that has helped literally hundreds of people in need,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “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.”
Robert Kelly, president of ATU Local 308, said he is pleased the lines of communication have re-opened. "We were able to reach an agreement, one that benefits everyone involved, including the riding public. I believe this is a win-win situation and we can now move forward.”
Combined with a similar program introduced last year with ATU Local 241 offering 200 bus servicer apprenticeships, the reinstatement of the rail car servicer program restores CTA’s apprentice program to 265 total positions. CTA’s apprenticeship initiative is one of the largest ex-offender retraining programs in the nation, and has provided job opportunities to more than 800 ex-offenders convicted of non-violent crimes, individuals completing drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, victims of domestic abuse, and others.
Under Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s CTA administration, 76 apprentices have been hired into full-time positions with the CTA, in addition to dozens of private-sector placements with the assistance of social service agencies such as The Cara Program.
The reinstatement of the program was the result of discussions between CTA and ATU about the benefits of continuing the program. “Both sides agree that this program is valuable in many ways to both workers and customers, and is worth continuing in 2014 and beyond,” Claypool said.