City Council Approves Furlough Days

Furloughs designed to save city more than $14 million

By Phil Rogers and BJ Lutz
|  Tuesday, Jul 28, 2009  |  Updated 1:18 PM CDT
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City Council Approves Furlough Days

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The furloughs will impact 3,700 non-union employees across all city departments.

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Non-union city employees will be taking a series of unpaid days off after a 42-6 vote by the Chicago City Council. The furloughs are designed to save the city more than $14 million while averting layoffs of non-union staff.

"Every dollar we save from these measures helps to save jobs and maintain service," said Mayor Richard Daley after the vote. "This plan involves the city's top management, including me. This recession is not ending July 1st."

The furloughs will impact 3,700 non-union employees across all city departments -- about 10 percent of city workers. The savings represent the equivalent of 222 city employees, officials said.

"Its better to have a job and take furlough days, than not have a job," Daley said.

Ald. Helen Shiller (46th) said the move was necessary to push labor unions that represent the other 90 percent to also take furlough days.

"We have to show we're serious," Shiller said.

If the unions don't agree to concessions, Daley has warned that he would lay off more than 1,500 employees, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Six furlough days are mandatory. In addition, all six holidays remaining in 2009 will be unpaid. Non-union employees making less than $35,000 are exempt from taking the furlough days.

"We don't want to lay any employee off," Daley said, adding that he will discuss plans for union employees on Wednesday.

The city says despite efforts to reduce costs, the cumulative revenue shortfall is $113 million since the budget was approved last year. That deficit is expected to grow to more than $250 million, or even $300 million by year's end.

Voting against the furloughs were Alds. Robert Fioretti (2nd), Pat Dowell (3rd), Toni Preckwinkle (4th), Leslie Hairston (5th), Sandi Jackson (7th) and Joe Moore (49th).

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