Eliminate 200 Motor Truck Driver Positions

Savings: $19 million

Motor Truck Drivers (MTDs) are positions in the City, to which employees are assigned, that are tasked with driving and operating a wide variety of motor vehicles and power equipment.  MTDs, who are represented by the State and Municipal Teamsters, Chauffeurs and Helpers Union, Local 700, must possess an Illinois Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).  MTDs generally make nearly $34 dollars an hour and receive additional health and pension benefits.[1]   In 2010, depending on the time of year, the City employed between approximately 1400 and 1800 MTDs, in nine different departments.

An OIG review of MTD responsibilities revealed that most MTDs employed by the City are being used efficiently, including when they are driving snowplows, operating garbage collection trucks, and sweeping City streets.[2]  However, the review also revealed that a sizable percentage of MTDs, approximately 200 MTD positions, are used solely to transport personnel and equipment, a task which could easily be performed by another assigned member of the work crew who participates in the actual performance of the task or project.  These 200 or so MTDs transport personnel and equipment to jobsites and then merely wait – generally getting paid to do nothing more than sit in a vehicle – while other City personnel perform various tasks.

Under this option, these 200 MTD positions would be eliminated and other crew members would drive City vehicles, which in many cases would not require additional training or qualifications.  The elimination of the estimated 200 inefficient MTD positions would save the City approximately $19 million a year.

The inefficient use of MTDs primarily results from the City’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the Teamsters, which severely constrains the City’s managerial rights. In successive CBAs with the Teamsters, each ratified by the City Council, past administrations have relinquished the City’s ability to combat identified inefficiencies by prohibiting the City from transferring certain MTD responsibilities to other employees or subcontracting MTD services. The current CBA, in effect until June 2017, does not allow the City to unilaterally transfer work that has been traditionally performed by MTDs to other City employees, except in emergencies.  Thus, in order to eliminate these positions and transfer their responsibilities to other personnel, the CBA would need to be amended.

Proponents might argue that the inclusion of extra workers on a crew when their presence does not add value or could be performed by other staff creates unnecessary costs which are paid for by taxpayers. Opponents might argue that these positions are necessary because MTDs receive special training and if other, less trained personnel operated these vehicles and equipment it would endanger public safety.[3]

Budget Details

Dept: Various Bureau: NA
Fund: Various Approp Code: Salaries and Wages- On Payroll, 0005


[1] Assuming that health and pension benefits are 35 percent of salary, the average full-time MTD earns approximately $95,000 a year.

[2] City of Chicago Inspector General. “Review of the Efficiency of the Job Duties of Motor Truck Drivers.” March 2011. pg. 2


[3] PR Newswire. “Teamsters Balk at Chicago Inspector General’s Report: You Can’t Re-open our Contract.” April 1, 2011.