February 5, 2001

The CTA today released November and December results of monthly driver's license checks it is conducting in cooperation with the Illinois Secretary of State's Office to verify the validity of employees? commercial driver's licenses. The CTA began the checks this fall after an investigation by the CTA's Inspector General determined that some bus operators were driving even though their licenses had been suspended or revoked.

More than 5,600 CTA employees are required to maintain valid commercial driver's licenses in order to perform their duties. These include, but are not limited to, bus operators, repairmen, servicers, bus and truck mechanics, bus service supervisors, instructors, and employees who operate certain non-revenue vehicles, such as trucks. The first two monthly checks were conducted on bus operators only, but other job categories have been incorporated into subsequent checks.

"We have tightened up our procedures so that each month we will have up-to-date information from the Secretary of State regarding employees whose licenses have been suspended or revoked," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. "Our employees are required to notify us immediately if they are at risk of losing their licenses due to a suspension or revocation. Through these frequent checks we are quickly able to detect those who are not forthcoming."

A license suspension or revocation does not always mean that the employee will be dismissed. The CTA's labor agreements outline disciplinary steps that must be followed that allow the employee an opportunity to address the charges and obtain a valid license. However, any employee who fails to promptly report receipt of a DUI charge is subject to immediate dismissal. Employees who report that their licenses have been suspended or revoked are suspended without pay and given up to 60 days to obtain valid driver's licenses.

As a result of the November and December checks, the CTA identified three employees whose licenses are currently suspended or revoked. These employees had not informed the CTA of the suspensions/revocations.

Wallace Bell, a bus operator since 1995, was discharged from the CTA on January 5, 2001. The Secretary of State's records showed that his license was revoked in October, 2000 due to a DUI conviction. In accordance with the CTA's collective bargaining agreement with its bus operator's union, Bell was provided several opportunities to explain the circumstances of his DUI charge and provide proof that his record was clear, but failed to do so.

The other employee whose record shows a DUI conviction has been suspended without pay while his record is being verified. The cross-check with the Secretary of State's Office found two driver's licenses matching his personal data. One indicates a clean driving record, but the other shows a DUI conviction dating back to 1969. He has been a full-time employee since 1993.

The third bus operator whose license was found to be invalid had a financial responsibility suspension. He was discharged from the CTA on December 18, 2000 for other, unrelated violations of CTA rules and regulations. He had worked for the CTA since 1996.

The cross-checks with the Secretary of State's Office also turned up reports on two former CTA employees. With each check that is conducted, the CTA and Secretary of State's Office are refining the process so that such errors can be eliminated.

'secretary of State Jesse White and his staff are to be commended for the help and cooperation they have shown," said Kruesi. ?Their data base is a valuable resource that is helping us do a better job of identifying problems and resolving them quickly."

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