Transit Worker's Union No Friend of Rahm

Internal poll shows overwhelming disapproval ratings

In a recent set of polls, membership of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 showed their overwhelming disapproval of the jobs Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool are doing.

On Oct. 27, the union representing the CTA’s train operators held an electronic town hall, in which 1,200 participating members were asked if they approved of Mayor Emanuel’s job performance. At the time, 93 percent indicated their disapproval.

Thinking the numbers were high, Local 308 president Robert Kelly commissioned another poll, conducted by local board members in face-to-face discussions. The results of the second poll were remarkably similar, he says.

Results of the second poll, taken of an unspecified number of the 3,000 active and 1,700 retired members of the local, included:

  • 95.2 percent said they did not approve of the job Mayor Emanuel is doing
  • 93.8 percent said they would not vote for him in 2015.
  • 94.7 percent said the did not think the Mayor was friendly or supportive of unions.
  • Asked if they considered the Mayor a Democrat or Republican, 54.3 percent said Republican

Kelly told Ward Room that from the perspective of many local members, much of the poll numbers are the result of Emanuel’s choice to head the transit agency itself.

“Mayor Emanuel is who the local membership holds responsible for Forrest Claypool,” Kelly said. “We have zero working relationship with [Claypool]. He is on a warpath for anything and everything, and has cost this local thousands and thousands of dollars.”

Kelly cited an example of an new four-year labor agreement negotiated last year. Agreed upon and ratified in December, by January 2013 Kelly says the union was back in arbitration.

“When you see this 95 percent number, that represents a response to the agency leadership, to problems with the Ventra system, attacks on our members—everything.”

Kelly says from his perspective, the meaning of the poll results are clear.

“The poll was taken mainly to show our members, but also to send a message: This is how you are perceived,” he said. “Our people work [in the city], and they live here. Many of our members are African American, and live on the south side. They’re schools have been closed, they see killings [in their communities], then they have to come to work and be treated like a piece of dirt. [The poll results] are a message they want to send.”

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