Deadline passes in city-union negotiations

July 15, 2009 4:34:19 AM PDT
Hundreds of Chicago workers face layoffs Wednesday after two unions failed to reach a deal on cost-cutting concessions before the midnight deadline.Mayor Daley says holdout unions can agree to the city's cost-cutting concessions or face layoffs. He said over 400 city workers will lose their jobs if there is no deal by midnight tonight.

The Teamsters and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) are resisting concessions that include unpaid furlough days and receiving comp time in lieu of overtime pay.

Wednesday will be the last day on the job for 431 city workers, unless their unions accept an agreement with the mayor. AFSCME Council 31 and Teamsters Local 726 have taken the city's deal to their membership for a vote and both unions turned it down.

The mayor says it is only fair for all unions to agree to the same deal.

Dr. Lourdes Balquiedra is a dentist for a city health clinic. She and her assistant will lose their jobs tomorrow if their union, AFSCME, does not agree to a deal with Mayor Daley that includes unpaid furlough days.

"We are not going to let the mayor or anybody else dictate to our members what is acceptable or not.," AFSCME Executive Director Henry Bayer said.

"I'm not threatening. That is a bad word," Daley said.

AFSCME nevertheless believes the mayor is making threats. Out of the 431 city employees that face layoffs, 290 are AFSCME and 141 are Teamsters. Besides city dentists, AFSCME represents clerical staff at the police department and city libraries. The union says the mayor refuses to consider their proposal.

"We offered them an alternative that would have saved them every dime they'll be saving by laying people off," Bayer said.

Bayer, however, will not reveal the details of his plan. Out of 27 unions, AFSCME and the Teamsters are the two hold outs. The Laborers just signed to the agreement that calls for 14 furlough days for the rest of the year.

"I was so proud June 18 when my members said this is what we need to do. I don't want to see 126 brother and sister members on the street," Chuck Loverde, of Laborer's International, said.

The mayor stood with two dozens unions that decided furloughs were better than layoffs. Some of the trades didn't even face layoffs, yet agreed to the deal. The mayor says it would not be fair to them to give AFSCME or the Teamsters a different deal.

"They can't say so and so got a better deal. This would be chaotic. It would be really unfair. That means you're selling them out," Daley said.

Non-union city employees, including the mayor, also agreed to take 14 unpaid furlough days for the rest of the year. The agreement with the unions is a two-year agreement. The mayor promised if the economy gets better he will tear up the deal.

Mayor Daley says reducing the cost of personnel is necessary to balance the budget. Those employees in question will be paid tomorrow and that will be their last day unless something happens before Wednesday.


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