How Chicago Unions Make O’Hare Runways Less Safe

One City of Chicago employee had two runway incursions in a single day and thanks to union rules wasn’t even fired. Indeed, not a single one of 5 city workers who drove vehicles improperly on O’Hare runways were terminated.

Last summer, a city of Chicago employee who works on the airfield at O’Hare Airport drove a vehicle into what’s called a “runway safety area” — and proceeded to do something quite unsafe.

Without clearance, he lingered there as a Korean Air jetliner took off and “overflew his vehicle” at more than 200 miles an hour.

…Another one of those five workers, a motor truck driver, is still on the city payroll and working at O’Hare despite having been blamed for three separate foul-ups — two “runway incursions” in 2020 and a 2021 “surface incident” in which he was driving a city vehicle on an airfield and “cut right in front of” a taxiing aircraft that had “to hit the brakes,” the records show.

On October 15, 2020 an American Airlines regional jet had to abort its landing because a city employee drove a truck onto the runway. Another employee came within 1200 feet of a moving aircraft when they went the wrong way. A third employee crossed the same incorrect active taxiway two times in short period. That driver also “cut off a SkyWest Airlines aircraft on a taxiway.” The pilot of that aircraft disputes the employee’s claim that “The [plane] had a lot of room and they did not have to use brakes.” Thanks to Teamsters Local 700, he kept his job, as did the member of Laborers Local 1001.


Credit: Chicago Department of Aviation

The only way this driver lost their job was because they weren’t a citizen, and their work authorization ended.

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