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 million — target 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.
The transportation department layoffs will be begin immediately
. As a result, city curb and gutter repairs are being put off until next year.
Custodial services, benefits management and the water-bill call center will be privatized
after 30- and 45-day layoff notices go out.
“I recognize that the workers affected here are people with families to support and bills to pay, and they are going to be cast into an economy that is scarce on jobs,” Emanuel said. “But there are millions of hard-working families across the city who are trying to pay bills every day, get their kids to school every day or in camp. They’re trying to make ends meet on a paycheck that may run out by the end of the month. Those are the people [who] pay the bills [and] that expect the services.”
Emanuel’s decision to pull the trigger on layoffs escalates a high-stakes standoff with organized labor that is only in Round One
Even more concessions or layoffs will be needed to erase a $700 million operating shortfall in the city’s 2012 budget — and $500 million more when unfunded pension liabilities are factored in.