Union Blazes Over Proposed Firefighter Cuts - NBC Chicago
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Union Blazes Over Proposed Firefighter Cuts



    Chicago firefighters could see $7,000 a year less in their paychecks if Mayor Rahm Emanuel's cost-cutting proposal goes through.

    A month before Chicago firefighters' contract expires, Emanuel revealed a plan he said will save taxpayers millions. But the firefighters union told the Chicago Sun-Times the proposal is “insulting” and “ridiculous."

    Though station closures aren't part of Emanuel's cost-saving plan, the union said his proposal takes aim at firefighter perks.

    Proposed concessions include reducing the number of employees required to staff fire apparatuses, eliminating duty availability pay for being on 24-hour call and doubling rookie probation from nine to 18 months. Others: eliminating a uniform allowance and reducing "non-duty lay up coverage" that pays firefighters for injuries on their days off.

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    "Employees are great. They do hard work, and we will make sure that they're properly not only compensated but respected for the work that they do. But as I said repeatedly in the campaign and also when we did the budget, no part of the budget is immune from change or reform," Emanuel said Wednesday.

    The proposal follows the resignation of Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff, who was against reducing staff at fire houses.

    Talk among rank and file at the time of Hoff's February resignation suggested his sudden leave stemmed from a philosophical difference over manpower as the firefighters union heads into contract talks with the mayor, but Hoff said the mayor hadn't pushed him to go. 

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    Hoff's successor, Jose Santiago, has said he wants to focus on making the department more efficient and plans to look at every option.