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Union vs. CTA: Who’s Right?

By Shannon Keane, Copy Editor (skeane3@uic.edu)

If you are a commuter, a native of Chicago, or simply just someone who spends a fair amount of time watching the news, odds are you heard about the Blue Line crash last week. What you probably haven’t heard, however, is about the conflict that has arisen out of it.

The conductor of the CTA train, whose name has not been released, apparently “dozed off” while in charge of the specific blue line train that crashed, putting the O’Hare station, and hundreds of passengers, in danger. While it has been said that she was overworked and exhausted, and has been defended by the spokesperson of her union, Robert Kelly, who said that “everyone has dozed off doing something before,” is that really an excuse?

In my opinion, no. But the hours she had worked might be.

According to Kelly, the train conductor had worked a total of sixty-nine hours in the past week. For those of you who just pulled out their smartphones to figure this fact out, let me save you the trouble: that equates to about 9. 8 hours a day. No question that that’s a ton of hours, and no wonder she was tired.

However, this fact may not even be true. CTA spokesperson Brian Steele insisted that the number was actually fifty-five, which, while still being a lot, does considerably change matters.

The crash, which caused at least thirty injuries and a whopping $6 million cost to the CTA, isn’t even the real conflict anymore. The real conflict now is between Steele and Kelly, who continue to make childish insistences resembling a sixth grade playground fight. While the crash was a tragedy, and the conductor probably shouldn’t have been sleeping, how does it look to have the main men in charge of this matter clutching at straws trying to discredit the other?

I’ll tell you: it looks foolish.

In my humble opinion, the opinion of someone who takes the Blue Line maybe three times a week, I think that the CTA, the city, and the union need to take some time, sit down, and be adults about this whole thing. Until then, well, the Blue Line is back and up and running and the worst problem on the CTA is, once again, that it has been known on occasion to smell like pee.

Eh. Better than smelling like a crash.

For more info, check out: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-blue-line-operator-worked-extra-hours-before-crash-20140328,0,2087026.story

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