Last month Mayor Daley was threatening to layoff hundreds of city workers to help close the budget deficit. Thursday marked the first day in the next phase of the city's recession-wracked budget meltdown. With the 2009 deficit approaching 100 million dollars, the city is threatening to layoff as many as 1,600 union workers if they do not accept the same number of furlough days as their non-union colleagues
With revenues falling short of expectations at the rate of $24 million a month, the mayor announced that he would order the city's 3,600 non-union employees to take an additional 14 days off without pay.
"Because you don't want to have a layoff. Simple as that. You've got people with families, you don't want to see that," said Daley.
Last year, the city shut down non-public safety related operations for three days-- the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. In the revised 2009 budget, more shutdown days will include the seven remaining city holidays in 2009 and seven more furlough days. Non-union city workers would see their annual salary cut by six-percent.
"These steps will result in $10 million additional savings for the rest of the fiscal year, helping to bring down the deficit," said Mayor Daley.
The remaining 90-percent of Chicago's workforce--including sworn police officers and firefighters--is unionized. City officials say they're trying to get organized labor to accept the same conditions imposed on the non-union workers. Without any concessions the unions could face layoffs in the hundreds or thousands.
Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon says the city should guarantee union jobs as part of any deal:
" If we were to go along with some of this, would it save the jobs and how long would we save them?" said Dennis Gannon, Chicago Federation of Labor.
The mayor said he could not exempt public safety workers' unions. He said the city deficit grows every day that there isn't a concession agreement.
Daley also said he could not guarantee future layoffs if the economy worsens.
"Say next year becomes worse than this year? What are we gonna do? What do you do then," said Daley.
In 2007, the city signed a 10 year agreement with its largest unions hoping for labor peace through the 2016 Olympics. It appears now the contract will be un-done, less than two years later.