No word from Mayor Emanuel on layoffs

July 2, 2011 5:29:51 AM PDT
There is no word yet on layoffs from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel after he threatened earlier this week to let city workers go if the labor unions don't make concessions.

But the mayor did offer some ideas Friday on how the city can save some money.

The mayor wants the emphasis on partnership, not pink slips, so he didn't lower the boom Friday although he is clearly reserving that right if labor doesn't join the partnership he wants.

No more unpaid furlough days for city workers. Labor didn't like it, the new mayor doesn't like it, but ending it means cuts must come in other ways.

"I have a $31-million hole that is facing the taxpayers left from a smoke and mirrors budget that I will cure," Emanuel said Friday.

And here is part of the cure that the mayor announced Friday: 150 to 200 currently unfilled city jobs will remain vacant. They are considered non-essential jobs in a variety of departments, except for public safety, and anything that produces revenue.

The savings from that will equal $10 million, the mayor said.

Second, city-run healthcare centers will be partnered with a federal health care provider. The idea is to reduce duplication in neighborhood health service. That is supposed to add up to better healthcare at a cheaper cost another savings, the mayor said, of $10 million in part through worker attrition.

That leaves another $11 million to cut. The mayor says he hopes that will come through work-rule changes the city wants from its employee unions.

Labor leaders Friday said in a written statement, "We plan to present the mayor with our ideas in the coming weeks in order to address the city's structural budget deficit and help put the city back on track without negatively impacting working families and taxpayers."

Neither side is publicly talking specifics, but for now, there will be no pink slips forthcoming from the fifth floor.

"I'm clearly not in the next two weeks in the spirit of the conversation and discussion -- again, I repeat not negotiations, discussion and conversation we're having," said Mayor Emanuel. "I'm not gonna send those out because it would violate what I think is the spirit and the environment and the atmosphere I'm trying to construct where I want labor to be a partner."

Labor leaders say they will have their ideas for the mayor in a couple weeks. The mayor says he is willing to wait for that, but if it doesn't achieve what he sees as "partnership," then the emphasis turns to layoffs. Over 600 city jobs would be cut, Emanuel says, even with the $20 million in cuts he announced Friday.

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