The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Chicago Transit Workers Refuse Hazardous Work

Jul 1, 2024

Workers assigned to scrub the outside of CTA railcars with the toxic detergent SECO 101 reported severe burns that caused their skin to peel, and that spread over time to other parts of the body. Some had to leave work to obtain medical assistance. One required emergency room medical care.

These workers went to their supervisor to report their injuries, asking at first, then insisting that they be moved to some other assignment until proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and adequate training were provided. But the CTA rejected their demands and suspended them for “Gross Misconduct,” the penalty for which is termination.

CTA President Dorval Carter publicly insinuated that because some of the temporary workers have past criminal records, they should be happy to have their jobs, saying the city is: “giving individuals with barriers to employment the opportunity to really turn their lives around.” He just happens to be the highest paid of all the officials appointed by Mayor Brandon Johnson. The injured workers, meanwhile, are temporary part-timers who make just $15.50 an hour with no health insurance, sick days, vacation, or other benefits.

For all its claims to be “progressive,” the Johnson administration has sided with the highly paid officials and their corporate bosses, not the injured, low wage workers forced to work with dangerous chemicals. Just like every administration before it.