Keep your pants on, fearful CTA riders. It's possible those looming service cuts may not happen.
On Saturday, CTA President Richard Rodriguez told the Sun-Times he would "gladly" accept an offer from the bus drivers' union to take unpaid furlough days and no pay increase next year. That may help avoid those nasty cuts slated for Feb. 7, but it's not clear if it would be enough to avoid them entirely.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241 President Darrell Jefferson said the union's offer would cut $80 million from the CTA's budget. He also said the CTA had previously declined the offer, but Rodriguez said this was the first he'd heard of it.
Regardless of who said what first, if the CTA and the ATU can come to an agreement, it's a start. On Friday, the Chicago Federation of Labor's president urged all the unions that represent CTA workers to give in to avoid layoffs and service cuts. And if one union makes those concessions, the others may be more inclined to do so.
The CTA has a long history of threatening so-called "Doomsday" scenarios, outlining massive service cuts and/or fare hikes, only to be bailed out by last-minute union concessions or infusions of state cash. But if Doomsday really comes, what seems to some Chicagoans like just a slick negotiating tactic would become a real loss for the city's economy, traffic and general livability. For taxi drivers, though, it would be a gold rush.