Loyola students could see intercampus shuttle service come to a halt as a result of a possible transit worker strike, officials said.
Two bargaining units of Chicago transit workers, including Loyola’s intercampus shuttle drivers, were set to vote on a strike initiative Tuesday, according to a press release by Teamsters Local 727, a local union representing shuttle and paratransit drivers.
The verdict of the vote wasn’t announced as of Tuesday, but if the strike is approved, shuttle and transit drivers across the city may stop working for an unknown amount of time.
The 100 drivers represented in employer MV Transportation’s Division 422 not only service Loyola shuttles on all campuses and at the Loyola University Medical Center, but also the paratransit drivers responsible for transporting children with special needs in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), according to the release.
Local 727 filed multiple unfair labor practice charges against MV Transportation, according to the union’s press release. There are currently no details on the specifics of the charges.
The charges are currently pending with Region 13 of the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency responsible for enforcing labor laws in the U.S.
Gretchen Carey, the manager for Campus Transportation, wrote in an email to The Phoenix that Loyola was aware of the situation, but didn’t comment further.
“MV Transportation, Loyola’s shuttle and 8-RIDE service provider, has informed the University of their recent labor negotiations with Local 727,” Carey wrote. “We look forward to a quick resolution on their negotiations.”
Natalia Kaczor, a junior marketing student at Loyola, said even though she’s a commuter, the shuttle strike would make getting to the Water Tower Campus more difficult for many students.
“Not everyone is going to want to take the train,” the 20-year-old said. “Everyone knows the shuttle is much [safer] than the train.”
The “unfair labor practices” allegedly occurred during negotiations over the summer and were meant to address the first collective bargaining agreement — a written agreement between a company and the union that establishes the conditions of employment. The agreement covers new CPS bus drivers and Loyola drivers, the press release said.
Local 727 represents nearly 10,000 men and women in the Chicagoland area, including 300 other MV Transportation workers, according to the release. John Coli, Jr., secretary-treasurer of Local 727, said the workers deserve more than they’re getting from their employer.
“These men and women work tirelessly every single day to ensure the safety of Chicagoland students and provide an essential service to a vulnerable population,” Coli said in the release. “They deserve nothing less than to be treated with respect, which includes an employer that bargains in good faith.”
Claire O’Malley, a sophomore advertising and public relations and French double major, said she uses the shuttles three days a week because they’re more convenient than the CTA Red Line. She said a strike would make the trains much busier.
“A strike would relegate every student to the bus or train which requires extra walking to get where you’re going,” O’Malley said. “I’d be okay with it but some people rely on the shuttle much more than I do.”
Jessica Pelka, a 21-year-old accounting major, said the shuttle strike would impact her schedule, and she expressed concern for the shuttle drivers.
“It would take us all a lot longer to get around,” the senior Pelka said. “And I feel really bad for the drivers.”
MV Transportation and Local 727 couldn’t be reached for comment.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.