Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Saturday that after conversations with the Chicago Federation of Labor, the city's 2021 budget will not include layoffs of any City workers.
Lightfoot spoke with Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, about the necessity for the city's public workers, calling them the "backbone of our neighborhoods."
In a statement, the Chicago mayor wrote the following:
"After many productive conversations, we have come to an agreement to avert any layoffs of City workers in the 2021 budget. This will ensure Chicago's public workers, the backbone of our neighborhoods, maintain their jobs and health insurance while also protecting the critical services Chicagoans rely on during these unprecedented times. We are committed to continue working together to identify places where we can partner on savings."
Lightfoot released her annual budget proposal last month, revealing for the first time her plan to tackle the city's estimated $1.2 billion shortfall initially with layoffs and a property tax increase, among other cost-cutting and revenue-generating measures.
Lightfoot said the $12.8 billion budget proposal closes the $1.2 billion gap, 65% of which was tied to the coronavirus pandemic that has cratered revenues like sales tax and more as shutdowns to prevent the spread of the deadly virus have caused widespread economic devastation.
“Chicago’s 2021 Budget represents our city’s roadmap toward an inclusive and fiscally responsible recovery from the extensive challenges of the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis,” Lightfoot said in a statement.
Prior to Saturday's conversation, the personnel changes included eliminating roughly 1,800 vacant positions from all city departments, include police and fire, she said. The city would have also seen layoffs in roughly 350 positions effective March 1 under the plan, Lightfoot said.
“These decisions were developed through a robust community engagement process, prioritizing the long-term health and stability of our all our families and businesses, and rooted in our shared commitment to expanding opportunity across our entire city," she continued. "It’s these same values that have guided us throughout this crisis and will continue to carry our great city through the choices we face now, and in the successes that await us in the months and years ahead.”
The budget relies on more than $537 million in "savings and efficiencies," Lightfoot said. That includes $106 million in vacancy eliminations, as well as $114 million in non-personnel savings, $59 million from "sweeping aging revenue accounts" and $54 million in health care savings by negotiating better rates and finding additional savings from prior year audits and union negotiations, Lightfoot said.