The mayor says he gave labor leaders options and time to help shore up a budget. When they didn't respond, he had no choice but to cut.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday announced he would make good on threats to labor leaders and lay off 625 city union workers, confirming labor leader concerns.
Emanuel outlined the concessions he wanted from Chicago unions as he looks for $30 million in cuts. Labor leaders said Emanuel didn't give them specifics on what he wanted until Thursday, but the mayor is going forward with the promised cuts anyhow.
The city will outsource custodial services at O'Hare International Airport and the libraries, he said, and bring in a professional benefits management company. It also will outsource the call center at the water department and cut seasonal construction at the transportation department.
All together that's $10-12 million in savings.
“My duty as mayor is to protect our city’s taxpayers, not the city payroll,” Emanuel said in a statement. “I pledged to close this shortfall and offer the city a balanced, realistic budget. Despite ongoing talks between union leaders and members of my administration, they have not embraced any of the needed changes. And no amount of smoke and mirrors can put off the tough decisions any longer.”
Labor leaders told NBC Chicago the wait to negotiate wasn't all their fault. They weren't clear what Emanuel wanted in the deal to save the jobs, they said, and they just this week learned with whom to negotiate inside his administration.
"We're very disappointed and upset with the way [the city has] handled this," said Nick Kaleba, the Director of Communications for the Chicago Federation of Labor.
Emanuel made his demands clear on Friday.
The concessions he was offering up included paying time-and-a-half instead of double-time to save almost $1 million and eliminating automatic overtime for "prep time" to save $234,000.
He also wanted a 40-hour week instead of 35. Salaried and hourly trade employees would receive the same number of sick days and holidays, and different rates would be paid for operating different equipment.
“I have deep gratitude and respect for the thousands of men and women who work for our city, and my door will always be open to their representatives,” Emanuel said in a statement. “But the goal of city government cannot be to employ as many people as possible. Our job is to provide essential services to the taxpayers of Chicago as efficiently and economically as we can. That is what I promised Chicagoans I would do as Mayor, and that is why I am acting today.”