Emanuel announces layoffs of Chicago city workers
By DON BABWIN The Associated Press July 15, 2011 11:08PM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel asks a reporter to not interrupt him while he answers a question during a news conference to announce the possibility of layoffs Friday, July 15, 2011, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 2, 2011 12:02AM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday that Chicago will lay off as many as 625 workers to save as much as $12 million this year, adding that he had no choice after unions representing the employees refused to work with him to bring costs down.
“It has been two weeks and despite ongoing talks between leaders of organized labor and my administration, none of the changes yet have been embraced or agreed upon,” Emanuel said.
Emanuel is working to close the city’s $31 million budget gap, which he said was created by the expiration of furlough days for city workers. The new mayor said he’d taken steps to close $20 million of that gap and had given unions until Friday to provide him with suggestions on how the remaining $10 million might be cut through changing overtime policies and other work rules.
Emanuel said the union’s didn’t respond, while union officials angrily disputed his contention that he’s been working with them to change the city’s work rules.
“Neither he nor his representatives have ever made any attempt to meet with our union to negotiate changes to work rules,” said Henry Bayer, executive director of Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, in a statement. “The fact that he has never done so is clear evidence that his attempt to blame union work rules for the city’s massive deficit is mere public relations gimmickry.”
Those to be laid off include workers in the call center at the city’s water department and custodians at the airports and libraries. Their jobs will be turned over to private contractors. Emanuel said he will reduce by at least 100 the number of seasonal workers in the city’s transportation department.