Midnight Thursday marks the end of a two-year furlough deal between former Mayor Richard Daley and some Chicago unions.
But new Mayor Rahm Emanuel doesn't want to extend the deal to keep 24 unpaid days off for those union workers, saying it hurts employee morale and hasn't lived up to projected savings.
Instead Emanuel has his own plan to cut $20 million from the budget. Specifics aren't known, but he said it involves some concessions from the unions that include changes to work rules.
"We are ready to move," Emanuel said Wednesday during an unrelated news conference. "I want them to be a partner, but I won't stand still, and I'll take necessary steps."
Those steps include laying off 625 workers, a move unions can avoid by accepting his plan.
"If we do this, I don't have to lay off 625 people," Emanuel said. "I don't want to. I want to grow jobs."
Emanuel said he welcomes new ideas, and unions say they are prepared to present the mayor with their own plan within two weeks.
According to most contracts, Emanuel would have to give employees 30 days' notice if he plans to lay them off.