Mayor Daley on Thursday ordered 3,500 nonunion employees to take up to 14 days off without pay by Dec. 31, turning up the heat on union leaders to agree to similar concessions.
The mayor hopes to save the city about $10 million through the move, which requires City Council approval.
Last month, Daley threatened to lay off 1,600 city employees -- none sworn police officers or firefighters -- unless organized labor agrees to another round of givebacks to erase a $300 million shortfall.
They were asked to pick their poison from a $68.9 million menu that includes two furlough days a month for nine months ($24.9 million); comp time instead of cash for overtime ($17.8 million); making six remaining 2009 holidays unpaid ($9 million); a 5 percent pay cut ($12.9 million) and eliminating the July 1 increase in the prevailing wage ($12.9 million).
So far, none of the unions has agreed to cuts. Some are concerned about how city givebacks would impact private-sector negotiations. Others want a guarantee that, if concessions are granted, there won't be layoffs for the next two years.
Daley is apparently tired of waiting for an answer.
Nonunion employees will have to take the time off through a combination of furlough days, elimination of paid holidays and sick days, but his plan requires City Council approval. If it passes, it would mean no pay for city workers for any of the remaining holidays in 2009 -- including Thanksgiving and Christmas.
City employees not otherwise covered by collective-bargaining agreements get 12 paid sick days each year, which many choose to stockpile. They also get 12 paid holidays each year.
"We can't control the unions. But this is a piece we can control," said a top mayoral aide, who asked to remain anonymous.
"We're facing a serious budget deficit. The unions will have to help us, or there will be layoffs."
Daley's 2009 budget was precariously balanced by laying off 420, eliminating 1,600 vacancies, slowing police hiring and raising taxes, fines and fees by $52.5 million.