The John Howard Association has distributed an open letter (see below) from allies to Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), which urges them to work together and support the continued existence of CTA's Apprenticeship Program, an initiative that trains formerly-incarcerated people to clean and maintain public transportation equipment.
Father Michael Pfleger, the Senior Pastor at The Faith Community of Saint Sabina, will be holding a rally in support of the Apprenticeship Program on Thursday, December 12, at 12:00 PM, at Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308's headquarters (205 West Wacker Drive). Those who would like to show support for the program are encouraged to attend.
Dear Bob Kelly, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, and Forest Claypool, President of CTA:
We represent a diverse and broad spectrum of community-based service providers, religious and civic leaders, policy specialists, and advocates united by the principle that formerly incarcerated men and women deserve to have meaningful access to employment opportunities. This principle is not simply one of the essential cornerstones of a fair justice system, but it also promotes strong and safe communities. One of the best and most cost-effective ways to control crime and promote public safety is to ensure that people with criminal records have the ability to create productive lives for themselves and their families.
It is because of our commitment to justice that we write to you today. We understand that the Apprenticeship Program's existence is in jeopardy.
Since November 2007, this small, but vital program has worked with Chicago's most effective community-based providers to select hundreds of formerly incarcerated people and give them true second chances. The Apprenticeship Program teaches participants to clean and maintain service equipment. This work not only provides formerly-incarcerated people with a set of skills and references that they can use to find permanent living wage jobs, including positions at CTA, but it also keeps our public transportation system clean for everyone who uses it.
Because of its success, CTA's leadership has conveyed to us that they strongly support the Apprenticeship Program and will do what is needed to ensure its future existence, as well they should. The Apprenticeship Program represents the very best of what Chicago is doing to protect public safety by giving people the second chance they deserve.
Likewise, we ask that Amalgamated Transit Union to stand up for justice, public safety, and access to meaningful employment.
Please do not end the Apprenticeship Program.
Cabrini Green Legal Aid
Chicago Jobs Council
The Faith Community of Saint Sabina
The Institute for Metropolitan Affairs, Roosevelt University
The John Howard Association of Illinois
Prison and Neighborhood Arts Project
The Safer Foundation
The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.
St. Leonard's Ministries
Tamms Year Ten