CHICAGO (CBS) — Uncertainty about their jobs is taking the happy out of the upcoming holidays for hundreds of Chicago crossing guards.
They said their status has been in limbo for months, and many still don’t know when or if they’ll work again due to some city hall maneuvering.
CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov has the details.
It’s been almost a month since CBS 2 reported on the uncertain job status of the city of Chicago’s roughly 850 crossing guards. And they’re still in limbo. Now with the holidays coming and some schools set to reopen in about a month, they want answers.
“(It’s) hurtful. It’s sad,” said Chicago crossing guard Yolanda Christmas. Crossing guards like her said they feel like pieces in a city budget chess game.
“They use us as pawns They just switch us around, switch us around.”
A 20-year veteran doesn’t want to be identified for fear of retaliation, but she’s talking about the confusion about their jobs, now that the crossing guard unit has been transferred from the Office of Emergency Management to Chicago Public Schools.
OEMC’s director sent a letter to guards in October telling them about the switch, stating no positions would be lost but providing few specifics. These guards said they still don’t have any.
“It’s exhausting for a whole a lot of crossing guards. Very frustrated,” said crossing guard Rochelle Daven.
The transfer of the $14 million crossing guard unit takes that expense off the city’s books and puts it on the CPS ledger. CBS 2 asked Mayor Lori Lightfoot Thursday if some guards would have to re-apply for their jobs as some say they’ve been told.
“I don’t know where that rumor is coming from, but that is absolutely not correct,” Lightfoot said. “I’ve personally been involved in those discussions with the union. So that’s not correct.”
Twenty-four hours later, crossing guards got a letter from their union, the SEIUs, telling them they’re still awaiting answers. An SEIU official said all should keep their jobs. But specifics are still lacking.
“We’re on pins and needles pretty much,” said a crossing guard.
A CPS spokesperson echoed what the union said, that there should be more information soon. He said they don’t have to reapply for their jobs, but do have to go through background checks and other things. But the guards are still waiting.
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