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United Transferring 1,300 Workers To Willis Tower

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United CEO Jeff Smisek and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Credit: Craig Dellimore/Newsradio 780)

United CEO Jeff Smisek and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Credit: Craig Dellimore/Newsradio 780)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — United Airlines on Friday announced that it will be bringing an extra 1,300 workers into downtown Chicago.

United CEO Jeff Smisek said most of these workers will be relocated from other cities to space in the Willis Tower.

These workers are in addition to the workers who began moving to Willis from United’s Operations Center in Elk Grove Village last fall. That move of about 1,000 workers is expected to take about 18 months, according to United.

In a news release, Emanuel touted the jobs as “new.” However, Smisek said the workers would be moving from other locations “throughout our system.” Some people will be coming from Houston, San Francisco and other locations–as a result of United’s merger with Houston-based Continental, Smisek said.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports

The extra workers, mostly operations and technology employees, in the Loop will be a welcome shot to the downtown economy — and fill empty space at Willis Tower.

“Mayor Emanuel recognizes the importance of keeping Chicago competitive with other cities and expanding job growth here, and we look forward to working together with him and his team,” Smisek said.

Emanuel has gone from White House chief of staff to chief persuader, cajoling, promising and nurturing CEOs — without any financial incentives.

It’s a sharp difference from the path laid by Gov. Pat Quinn, who last year helped push through a 46 percent income tax hike on businesses.

United’s chairman said nothing about the governor.

Jack Sandner, retired chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, was called by Emanuel after reports the CME might consider leaving Chicago because of the business taxes.

Neither would talk about their conversation, but it’s clear that Sandner came away confident he’d found a sympathetic ear.

Contributing: CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall.

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