CHICAGO — A group of CTA workers, who are part of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, rallied Wednesday from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. to bring awareness to the violence their employees and CTA riders have been experiencing.
The union is primarily train operators, flag workers, customer service representatives and maintenance workers.
The union president says his members feel it’s unsafe to come to work because they aren’t being protected.
Union President Eric Dixon was at the rally, along with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago police Supt. David Brown.
“My members are tired,” Dixon said. “I have some members who are afraid to come to work because of the violence. So we are at a point now [that] something has to be done.”
Just last week, a man was shot and killed on a northbound Red Line train near the Garfield stop. Police said three men approached him and one of the men opened fire.
In July, University of Chicago student Max Lewis was hit and killed by a stray bullet on a Green Line train near 51st Street in Washington Park.
Others have been robbed and beaten.
“We want it to stop,” said Deborah Lane, ATU Illinois President. “Our police are tired and we are tired.”
On Tuesday, the union president says a man was charged in connection to a hammer attack on the CTA Red Line.
In February 2020, Lightfoot announced she would add 50 new officers to the police department’s Public Transportation Unit, in addition to several hundred officers who were already patrolling the CTA. But the union president says now there are only roughly 120 officers in that unit, breaking down to about 30 officers per shift across the system.
They say violence on members is their main concern, but they’re also worried about rider safety and say they need a larger police force to deter it, or it will continue to happen.
“We hear you, we stand with you and we’ll send more resources here to make sure your issues are addressed. We are obligated to protect you and we’re here in solidarity with you,” Supt. Brown said.
Lightfoot said she is also committed to working with the union to better protect members and riders.
“These men and women risk their lives every single day throughout the pandemic to do their job on buses, trains, keeping the platforms clean,” she said. “We owe them a debt of gratitude. The best way we can repay that is to not bring violence onto the CTA.”
The union members will be back for another rally from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday.