Protesters with Occupy Chicago march from the financial district to City Hall October 26, 2011 in Chicago. At City Hall, the protesters chanted as they marched through the building and up to the mayor's fifth floor office.
Occupy Chicago and Chicago Transit Authority workers join forces Thursday to fight Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed reductions in CTA employee benefits and compensation.
Protesters and members of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 241 plan to show up at a Thursday evening budget briefing, the final public meeting before the CTA board is expected to vote on the 2012 cuts.
"Occupy Chicago supports the workers of the Chicago Transit Authority, who have become scapegoats in 'Mayor 1%' Emanuel's quest for union concessions," said Daniel Massoglia, an Occupy member.
CTA Board President Forrest Claypool said last month the reductions would spare riders from the service cuts and fare hikes the agency resorted to last year and in 2009. He also warned that up to 1,000 CTA workers would be laid off if no labor concessions were made. Absenteeism is still a huge issue, he said.
"I cannot ask our riders to walk farther and pay more until we have gone to our labor partners and ask for reforms," Claypool said.
But workers called the move union busting and said the CTA took its case to riders to get Chicagoans mad at workers. "My job is not to balance the CTA budget," said Local 308 president Robert Kelly, adding, "I don't believe their rate for absenteeism at all."
Occupy Chicago protesters say they're not buying it either. ATU labor concessions, they said, shouldn't be the trade-off for regular service.
"You can't split the 99%, or force us to choose either health care [or] fair conditions for CTA workers, or fare hikes, service cuts, and firings."
Occupy Chicago and Local 241 plan to protest at 6 p.m. at Kennedy-King College, 740 W. 63rd St. They're targeting the mayor's budget and even the mayor himself.
“At the meeting, we will stand up against this bully and show him that he can’t push us around or divide us any more,” said Joshua Kaunert, of Occupy Chicago.