On the Picket Line

Chicago regional rail workers rally for wage increase

By Dan Fein
November 29, 2021

CHICAGO — Some 250 union members who work for Metra rallied at the regional commuter rail system’s corporate headquarters here Nov. 12 demanding a new contract.

“Our situation is unprecedented, we’ve been three years with no contract. We’ve had no raise since 2018, while management has gotten cost-of-living and merit raises,” Yolanda Tillman, a member of the Transportation Communications Union/International Association of Machinists, told the Militant. “The CEO got a raise that puts him over $300,000. The cost of living is going up, and they propose no raise again.”

The rally was sponsored by the nine unions that represent Metra workers, including the SMART-TD rail union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Service Employees International Union, Teamsters and the Machinists. They have been negotiating for a new contract since Jan. 1, 2019.

“We worked right through the pandemic. The company’s slogan is ‘My Metra,’ Tillman said. “Where’s the ‘My Metra’ for the employees?”

Mark Kutahl, a locomotive mechanic with 30 years seniority, said, “Our unions are sticking together, we need unity.” Alfonso Arina, a member of IBEW Local 134, said, “Metra calls us ‘essential workers,’ but they sure don’t treat us that way.”