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In Blow to Emanuel, Federal Judge Issues Temporary Restraining Order Against CTA for Its Ban on Employee Political Speech

TRO Bolsters Union’s Case That Chuy Garcia Endorsement Triggered Crackdown

Media Contact: Todd Brogan, 202-340-2001


Chicago, IL – A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order against the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) on Thursday, dealing an embarrassing blow to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in advance of Tuesday’s runoff election. Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Locals 241 and 308 filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the CTA, whose President is a political appointee and longtime ally of Emanuel, sought to ban political speech among transit workers because they support Emanuel’s opponent, Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

“Justice has been served in Chicago today, despite Mayor Emanuel’s best efforts,” declared ATU International President Larry Hanley.

“When Rahm took office four years ago, he swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. But when transit workers stood up to exercise their First Amendment rights in support of Chuy Garcia, Rahm’s appointees at the CTA illegally told them to sit down and shut up,” Hanley continued.

Emanuel has demonstrated disregard for the First Amendment before. During a speech at the Bloomberg Business Summit in 2011, the Mayor made this infamous remark: “I used to tell President Clinton. When it comes to the American press, the First Amendment is highly overrated."

“Rahm uses piles of cash he collects from out of town billionaires, including Republicans, to drown out the voices of regular Chicagoans, but that wasn’t enough,” Hanley said. “He told public workers they could not even talk to each other at work about their concerns and this campaign. The Constitution of the United States appears to disagree.”

Hanley said volunteers and organizers would be back in bus garages and train terminals on Thursday and Friday to ensure members know about the TRO and feel confident in exercising their First Amendment and voting rights.


About ATU

ATU Locals 241 and 308 represent more than 10,000 CTA workers in the City of Chicago. The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1892, the ATU today is comprised of over 190,000 members in 253 local unions spread across 47 states and nine provinces, including 3,000 workers at Greyhound Lines, Inc. Composed of bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees, the ATU works to promote transit issues and fights for the interests of its hard-working members.