Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rahm Emanuel layoffs in union showdown

(CSUNTM) Mayor Rahm Emanuel is sending layoff notices to about 625 city of Chicago employees — and delaying 61 blocks of curb and gutter improvements and 76 blocks of sidewalk repairs — after union leaders didn’t agree to work-rule changes the mayor wants or offer alternate ways to cut costs by a deadline Friday.“My duty as mayor is to protect our city’s taxpayers and be their voice — not to protect the city’s payroll,” Emanuel said at a City Hall news conference Friday. “No amount of smoke and mirrors can put off the tough decisions any longer.”

The layoffs — which Emanuel said will save roughly $12 milliontarget 75 percent cut of the Chicago Department of Transportation’s “seasonal” workforce, as well as custodians at O’Hare Airport, Midway Airports and the city’s public libraries; and workers who run the city’s water-bill call center and manage city benefits.Custodial services, benefits management and the water-bill call center will be privatized after 30- and 45-day layoff notices go out.

Emanuel said he bent over backward to avoid laying off city employees even as he’s been touting how he’s helped bring 3,600 private-sector jobs to Chicago since he took office in May.

Friday’s layoff notices came after Emanuel eliminated unpaid furlough days for city workers, saying that cost-saving move implemented by former Mayor Richard M. Daley was a “morale-killer.” He came up with a $19 million menu of cost-saving work-rule changes and agreed to a requested two-week delay — until Friday — on those so the Chicago Federation of Labor could try to come up with alternate ways to cut back.

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