A group comprised of Chicago Transit Authority management representatives, representatives of its rail operators union, and retirees today filed a lawsuit against Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241 and three of its board members.
ATU Local 241 represents bus operators, bus system repair and maintenance employees and general office clerical employees at the CTA.
The suit alleges that Local 241's appointees to the Retirement Allowance Committee, which oversees pensions for retired CTA employees, have breached their obligation to act in the best interest of retirement plan participants by blocking approval of retirement benefit increases. The increases were negotiated in labor agreements last year between the CTA and leadership of two unions that represent CTA employees?ATU Local 308 and Teamsters Local 726.
ATU Local 308 represents the CTA's rail operators, and State and Municipal Teamsters, Chauffeurs and Helpers Union, Local 726 represents drivers of non-revenue service vehicles.
?The leadership of Local 241 has been unwilling to reach a labor agreement with the CTA. They are abusing their positions on the pension board in a blatant effort to penalize the membership of unions that have successfully negotiated new contracts," said Dorval Carter, Jr., the CTA's Executive Vice-President of Management and Performance and also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
?The law is clear. As members of the Retirement Allowance Committee, they must put aside their personal and partisan views and act in the best interest of the beneficiaries and participants of the retirement fund. Instead, their actions are harming the people whose interests they have pledged to protect," he added.
Local 241's appointees on the Retirement Allowance Committee, Wanda Black, Marcellus Barnes and Claudette Ogletree, have twice voted against the implementation of the retirement benefit increases, thereby creating tie votes under the Retirement Plan's unit voting system. Local 241 has also refused to participate in the appointment of a Board of Arbitration, the mechanism by which tie votes are to be resolved.
The suit seeks a ruling that would direct the defendants to implement the negotiated changes to the retirement plan; declare the current unit voting system invalid; develop a more appropriate mechanism for voting and arbitrating disputes; and provide relief for those retirees and employees who may have suffered by the failure of the defendants to act properly.
The CTA's employee pension fund is known as the Retirement Plan for Chicago Transit Authority Employees. It is administered jointly by a 10-member board of trustees consisting of five management trustees and five union trustees. The fund has assets valued at approximately $1.7 billion.# # #