City Mulls Cop, Firefighter Furloughs

By Andrew Greiner and Mary Ann Ahearn
|  Thursday, Oct 29, 2009  |  Updated 10:38 AM CDT
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2010's Dreary, Dismal, No-Good Budget

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One of the more controversial pieces of Mayor Daley’s 2010 budget is the requirement for all city workers to take 24 unpaid furlough days.

The only city workers who have been spared from what amounts to an entire month off without pay are the city’s police and firefighters. But that could change.

A representative for the city budget office says the city is in negotiations with police and fire unions to accept furlough days.

It would mark the first time in Chicago that police and firefighters were forced to go without work.

The idea has caught the attention of more than a few city aldermen.

"I'm getting calls from residents in my ward who work for the city and can't pay their mortgage,” Alderman Ray Suarez said.  “Why can't police and fire also join in on the furlough days?"

"We have stayed away from police and fire all of these years,"  Alderman Ed Smith  said. "But we are in a position now where, I believe, that everybody should put in some skin in this game."

Chicago isn’t the first city to contemplate the idea. Los Angeles, Milwaukee, the state of New Jersey, Cincinnati and Baltimore are just a few of the locales that have considered cutting services like fire and rescue and police to plug holes in the budget.

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