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Mayor Emanuel will not extend union furlough days

June 28, 2011 2:59:09 PM PDT
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday he will not rely on furlough days to answer the city's budget problems.

But what does that mean? Will the city turn to layoffs instead to meet the projected $30 million shortfall this year? The mayor has until Thursday at midnight to make a decision.

"Deadlines have the ability to focus the mind," Mayor Emanuel said Tuesday during a news conference. He sent city worker unions a message: There are only three days left to put ideas on the table.

"We've had meetings. I have ideas on how to solve this. I've asked them to come forward with their ideas," Mayor Emanuel said.

On Thursday, union agreements to take 24 furlough days a year will expire. The previous mayor, Richard M. Daley, presumed in his 2011 budget that the unions would agree to continued furlough days to save the city $30 million for the rest of this year. Daley expected Emanuel to re-negotiate the same deal. But now Emanuel says he won't offer to extend the furlough days because they aren't solving the problem.

"I do not think the furlough from either a morale perspective or from a cost perspective achieved everything or was the panacea that it was said to do," Emanuel said. "But, I'm committed to seeing through the $30 million savings, make no mistake about it. That's not an option."

Emanuel said he'll do that "without furloughs."

Emanuel said he wants to avoid layoffs, but has not ruled them out as way to achieve the $30 million in savings without other options. Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez -- with whom the mayor says he's negotiating -- was unavailable for comment. Ramirez and Mayor Emanuel were scheduled to meet Tuesday evening. Sources tell ABC7 Mayor Emanuel wants to break the 10-year contract Daley signed with the union a few years ago to get through the 2016 Olympics, which Chicago lost out on, without issue.

Earlier, the mayor had good labor news on the private sector job front. The high-tech healthcare information company Allscripts announced it was hiring 300 new workers at its Chicago headquarters.

"Those 300 jobs by the end of next year, we expect to build on that. And we expect to draw many of those employees from the city colleges and the like," Allscripts CEO Glenn Tullman said.

"These are high-paying, high value jobs in a promising field of healthcare," Emanuel said.

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