Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Emanuel Uncovers Garbage Crews' Absenteeism

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The mayor said he's cleaning up the garbage department of waste. (Published Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011)

    The legend of Rahm Emanuel's work ethic is downright mythic.

    Chicago's mayor reportedly rarely sleeps. He exercises incessantly and works around the clock -- even on the weekends. 

    So it's no surprise that Emanuel took aim at a sanitation department that he says was calling in sick on Mondays or Fridays in order to engineer a three-day weekend. 

    "The tax payers of the city of Chicago pay for these services," Emanuel said Wednesday. "Because of absenteeism sometimes management has to choose between what services they will provide. That's not what the tax payer pay for."

    Now Emanuel will update the workforce transparency website monthly to show how often city workers take a day off. 

    The website now shows the numbers for average unscheduled absences between August 2010 and August 2011.

    "The days of gaming the system have come to an end," Emanuel said.

    For refuse truck drivers, an average of 19 workers call in on Mondays, the next popular day is Friday with 17. For refuse collectors, it's Mondays with 40 unscheduled absences, then Tuesdays and Fridays each with 30.

    About 250 databases, including salary information, contracts, lobbyist disclosures and crime, have all made their way to the internet and public view since Emanuel took office.

    "You're expected to do what you're paid to do," Emanuel said. "We shouldn't be canibalizing other departments because a few individuals don't show up for work and are gaming the system."