Pink slips sent to city workers today

1,500 employees will be out of a job
June 12, 2009 (CHICAGO) The city says its budget crisis makes the layoffs necessary after the city failed to reach a deal on contract concessions with its unions.

By mid-afternoon, the layoff notices had not been delivered to the mailboxes of those employees on the hit list. But on City Hall's second floor, the Daley administration's chief financial officer announced that all of the targeted unionized workers would be notified at their workplaces between Friday and next Tuesday.

Letters arrived on Thursday night at the offices of 40 different unions that represent 33,000 city employees, advising that members of each organization - totaling 1,504 workers - would be laid off effective July 15.

The three hardest hit departments would be Streets and Sanitation with 323 layoffs, Police Civilian Employees with 296 and Water Management with 295.

On Thursday, Mayor Daley said the unions could avoid the job losses by agreeing to accept 16 unpaid furlough days between now and December 31.

"If its just a scare tactic in my view its unconscionable that he would do this," said Henry Bayer, AFSCME Council 31.

Henry Bayer, whose AFSCME union stands to lose 300 jobs, wants the mayor to use the city's so-called rainy day fund and replace private contractors with less expensive city employees to save money and maintain services.

"I can't understand why the mayor of this city wouldn't be doing everything he possibly could to get every possible dollar into the city coffers," said Bayer.

Layoffs would mean fewer laborers and more time to finish garbage pick-up routes. More police officers would be assigned to replace civilian employees who do traffic control and records-keeping duties and cuts in the water department would mean sometimes slower response to broken hydrants and water main breaks.

Budget officials say either the layoffs or the furlough days will save the city $34 million this year and $76 million next year.

The mayor says its up to the unions to make the choice between fewer jobs or fewer paid days. Union leaders say that so far, the mayor has refused to discuss middle ground proposals.

There's still time to talk between now and July 15. But as far we know, no new negotiations are scheduled.

Charles has more on the political beat in his Precinct 7 Blog.

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