Nine months after emphatically voting to join Teamsters Local 727, nearly 700 paratransit drivers, garage attendants, dispatchers and customer service representatives at Cook DuPage Transportation (CDT) in Chicago have ratified their first union contract.
The workers voted to secure across-the-board improvements in wages, job security and working conditions in the 3.5-year agreement.
“This is a strong first contract that will protect these dedicated workers and help improve their lives and lives of their families,” said John Coli Jr., President of Local 727. “Local 727 is extremely proud of the way our new members have stood together, and they now have a contract to show for their unwavering dedication and passion.”
The Teamsters bargaining committee of CDT workers and union representatives spent months negotiating with management to reach a fair agreement. In addition, Coli and Local 727 representatives attended board meetings for Pace, the company that subcontracts work to CDT. The union also waged a media campaign and reached out to legislators to garner public support for the CDT workers.
The ratified contract marks the end of a long struggle for the CDT workers, who years ago voted for representation from the Amalgamated Transit Union. ATU, however, was never able to secure a first contract following years of bargaining, fighting and striking.
“From the beginning, CDT workers have made it clear that they want a voice on the job, and now they truly have one,” said David Glass, Local 727 business agent for CDT drivers and garage attendants. “The Teamsters are honored to represent these hardworking men and women, who provide such valuable services to our communities.”
The paratransit drivers transport disabled and elderly passengers throughout Cook county. CDT is located in Chicago’s vibrant Fulton Market.
Previously, the Teamsters bargaining committee had secured an interim grievance and arbitration procedure to protect workers during the negotiation process. Union representatives fought to reinstate a wrongfully terminated CDT driver and reduced several other unjust disciplinary actions during that time.
“These workers have already seen how a union contract makes a huge difference, and this is only the beginning,” Coli said. “Job security and the grievance procedure are cornerstones of a union contract, and their value and importance cannot be understated.”
The first contract, which was ratified via mail-in ballot, includes:
Twice-yearly wage increases for the duration of the contract
Signing bonuses upon ratification
Increased new-hire rates for all job classifications
Progressive discipline and a grievance/arbitration procedure
Improved attendance policy
Seniority and non-discrimination clauses
Protection from red light camera tickets when the employee is not at fault
Teamsters Local 727 represents more than 7,000 members throughout the greater Chicago area, including hundreds of paratransit drivers, bus drivers, dispatchers, call-takers, reservationists and mechanics at First Transit and MV Transportation locations in suburban Chicago.