City workers told to brace for layoffs

June 4, 2009 (CHICAGO) City leaders say concessions from unions would help avoid these cuts.

City workers are at a crossroads on Thursday night. Do they consent to another round of concessions or cope with the cuts that would pare their workforce by 3 percent, or as many 1,100 people?

"I don't think it's the right thing to do but if that's what's gotta happen then that's what it'll take," said one Chicago garbageman.

The Daley Administration is asking union and non-union workers to take 16 unpaid days off. Plus, overtime hours that could be paid with time off instead of cash.

The unions were reportedly ready to agree to the concessions, if City Hall would promise no lay offs for at least two years. But Mayor Daley said "no deal."

"Layoffs are a last resort. The big impact we're trying to avoid is significant impact on city services. We think there are more significant when you do layoffs. We think it's in the best interest of the city to come to a negotiated settlement with the unions," said Gene Saffold, Chicago's chief financial officer.

Many are wondering what about the billions of dollars the city earned from leasing the Skyway and parking meters? They ask can't that money be used to fill what has become a $250 million budget hole?

"Where is that money going? I do wonder that, yeah," said Bill Rastello, Chicago resident.

Mayor Daley says some of the money is shoring-up deficits, but he insists it would be irresponsible to use any more to fix short-term budget problems.

"If I didn't have the Skyway deal, parking meters and garages we'd be in a terrible position," said Mayor Richard M. Daley.

On Thursday night, some taxpayers ABC7 talked with say they have sympathy for both sides.

"The 16 days would be better than laying people off, at least they have their jobs," said Jackie Gill, Chicago resident.

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