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Emanuel to Unions: Keep Ideas Coming

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Emanuel to Unions: Keep Ideas Coming
Emanuel to Unions: Keep Ideas Coming

Mayor Rahm Emanuel sent a letter to union leaders late Tuesday, telling them he appreciates their effort in providing ideas to close the budget gap.

Unions on Tuesday delivered their plan to save about $242 million without cutting labor jobs. That's double what Emanuel aimed to save when he warned the jobs of 625 workers would be at risk if concessions weren't made.

In the letter, Emanuel said he agrees with some of the Chicago Federation of Labor's report and said he has already taken action on some of the suggestions.

"I will review the report with my team," Emanuel wrote, "so that we can begin to discuss how to incorporate these and other ideas in a way that best serves the city’s taxpayers in 2012 and beyond."

On his end, Emanuel announced the creation of a working group to look for more ways to tackle the budget shortfall and said he's looking for partners to come up with more ideas.

Here's the full letter:

I promised the people of Chicago when I ran that I would tell the hard truths and make the tough choices. Last month, the furlough program expired which created a $31 million budget shortfall - something I did not create but a shortfall that I took responsibility for eliminating.  I identified the needed savings and at the same time, improved services for Chicagoans.

I appreciate the effort made by the Chicago Federation of Labor in coming forward with today’s ideas.

Not only do I agree with some of what I read in the CFL report, I have already taken action on some of the suggestions. I have cut the Mayor’s Office payroll by ten percent.  I have also cut 100 non-union, senior to middle-management positions, and put a hiring freeze on an additional 175 non-union, senior to middle-management positions, which together is almost 10 percent of our non-unionized workforce.  These three actions save $21 million.  And my administration is not stopping there.  As you know, I have instructed my cabinet to do a top-to-bottom review of each department to identify savings and deliver services more efficiently in the future.

No idea is too small and no area of government is immune from review or reform.  As I said in my inaugural address, if we all give a little, no one will have to give too much. 

To aid in our efforts to tackle the 2012 budget shortfall, I am announcing the formation of an official working group to initially focus on wellness and workplace reforms. This working group will be led by Deputy Mayor Mark Angelson, Budget Director Alexandra Holt, and Director of Legislative Counsel and Government Affairs Matt Hynes. Together, these two areas could save the city a minimum of $100 million.  I am asking you today to name a group of individuals to partner with this working group in identifying cost savings in these two areas.

Wellness has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life for all city employees and their families.  It is something that Chicago labor supported during the last mayoral campaign and we must act fast to realize the savings.  Wellness health care programs have been adopted in other jurisdictions in the country and together we can make Chicago a leader in developing wellness programs for its public employees.  And workplace reforms that bring the public sector in line with the private sector will decrease the cost of doing business for the city and protect Chicago’s taxpayers. 

One thing we all can agree on is that the status quo is not working for Chicago’s taxpayers.  To tackle the challenges ahead, everyone must embrace change and no part of city government is immune from change.

My door will always be open to cost saving ideas. Saving money is a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week, 365-day-a-year job and I am looking for partners to get it done.  Working together, we can identify responsible solutions that are good for the city’s workers and the right choice for the future of Chicago.

Thank you,
Mayor Rahm Emanuel

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