October 26, 2011   

For Information:
Charles Paidock, Secretary
(312) 714-7790 cpaidock@hotmail.com 

Letter to the Editor
Attn:  Mr. Eric Zorn, Columnsit
Chicago Tribune
435 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611-4041

Re:Commentary, “Birthday bonus”

I would recommend that the Chicago Tribune editorial department do a little research before ridiculing the operating personnel of the Chicago Transit Authority, or their Union.

A contract provision of having a paid holiday on an employee’s birthday, or anniversary of their employment, is occasionally found in agreements.

I have been engaged in union negotiations for a number of years, and can fully understand this provision in their contract.  There is a variety of benefits, and different costs attendant to each.

Often a “floating” holiday is agreed upon, rather than closing down the entire factory for a day.  In the private sector, shutting down a facility, such as an assembly line, for a day is regarded as a considerable expense. 

Since a transit system operates 365 days a year, never closing, and employees must often work on weekends and holidays when others are off, a proposal of this type makes perfect sense.  The downside is that the employee's family members may be at work or school that day.

Also, as to its origin, there are a considerable number of “tradeoffs” made during the course of negotiations in order to reach agreement.  On occasion a decision is arrived at by a third party, or through arbitration to avoid impasse.  I can assure you that some significant feature of the conditions of employment was surrendered to management.  You article neglects to mention what that might have been.  Employers do not agree to a benefit because they feel kindly towards the workforce.

Also, an employee is compensated if the holiday is not granted, since supervisors may not honor this provision in the contract, and a monetary penalty is imposed upon the employer.  If the employer for whatever reason wanted to alter or eliminate this benefit, there are opportunities for submitting a counterproposal.  This is why we call it collective bargaining.

As a transit dependent rider, I appreciate the fine job done by CTA personnel in transporting me every day, and on weekends and holidays, at all hours of the day or night.  I pay a fare each time I use public transit, and do not expect the bus driver or train operator to do it for me through cuts in their salary or benefits.


Charles Paidock, Secretary
Citizens Taking Action
for transit dependent riders

Re: Commentary, “Birthday bonus”
Letter to Editor, Chicago Tribune
Citizens Taking Action for transit dependent riders