Ward Room
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Mayor Emanuel Happy to Hear from Unions

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Without seeing a report by labor leaders identifying $200 million in savings, Emanuel said he welcomes the report.

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday that he welcomes a report from city labor leaders that purports to save $200 million through efficiencies, and agrees there's too much budget fat around middle management.

He's eager to take a look at their ideas.

"First of all, I haven't seen the report .. but I look forward to seeing it.  I'm happy that labor now is putting forward their ideas." Emanuel said a morning press conference. "I welcome the report."

Union leaders said last week they felt blindsided by Emanuel's decision to cut 625 union jobs as a cost savings move. Emanuel said he was forced into the postion because labor leaders wouldn't agree to work rule changes, but leaders said there was no discussion about them.

Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, said such changes would be up to individual unions and couldn't be negotiated en masse. Sources also say negotiations have only just begun.

"We have a new mayor we are doing our best to show partnership," Ramirez said.

Emanuel wants movement on how unions mete out overtime pay. Union workers, he said, were paid double time while private sector workers only recieve time-and-a-half for overtime.That facet could save some of the jobs he threatened to cut, Emanuel said.

"If every union agrees  to overtime and not double time, that's  worth hundreds of jobs," Emanuel said.

Labor leaders counter that cost savings can be found in middle management. Emanuel agrees.

"They're right," the mayor said. "So I agree with that. But that doesn't take away from every other part of the budget that needs to be scrutinized. ... My view is, I'm for middle management savings and I've already done about $20 million of that."

He still wants work rule changes, and unions say they might not be able to comply.

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