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Labor agreement alleviates train crowding on Brown and Purple lines

by John Kanaly
Oct 09, 2012


John Kanaly/MEDILL

Commuters board Brown Line train headed toward a current "slow zone."

A new tentative agreement between the mayor, the CTA and the local iron workers union will lead to a revamp on sections of the Brown and Purple CTA train lines.

The new agreement allows for work to start in 2013 on the Ravenswood Connector project, which will increase rail efficiency on the Brown and Purple lines between the Merchandise Mart and Armitage Avenue stops. This section was built in the late 1800s and has traditionally been a slow zone where many trains get backed up.

“Thanks to their efforts and working cooperatively with us, the CTA will more effectively be able to serve both our taxpayers and our riding customers,” said Forrest Claypool, Chicago Transit Authority president, at a news conference Tuesday.

The Ravenswood Project will cost $66 million in 2013-2014. It will repair old sections of track, eliminate slow zones and allow for more frequent trains. The increased frequency will significantly reduce crowding on trains, especially on the Brown line, which is a line that has seen an increase in commuters. It will also shave two minutes off of the commute, Claypool said.

More than half of the work for this project will be the responsibility of the ironworkers. The agreement with the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Local Union #1 allows new flexibility in creating work shifts and more flexibility to utilize foreman. The agreement would also raise workers' hourly wages by $1.04 and increase contributions to worker’s health and pension plans.

“With the vision and the far-sightedness of men like Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Forrest Claypool, we are able to move forward into the next century with the spirit of cooperation,” said Craig Satalic, president of Iron Workers Local #1. “They have demonstrated, with the agreement, the Chicago spirit. The spirit of Chicago that works together for all its people.”

The Ravenswood Connector project will add 180 new construction jobs including 60 for ironworkers.

The mayor said that this is one important labor deal among many that he is working on across the city.

“What it acknowledges in these agreements are costs that are inefficient; that through change you can get more work, more hires, more faster services, cheaper prices and more convenience for the commuters,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.