Emanuel Backing Off On Threat To Cut 625 Jobs

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel has backed off on a threat to lay off 625 city workers earlier this week, instead going ahead with $20 million in budget cuts that don’t affect union jobs.

Earlier in the week, Emanuel warned of up to 625 city layoffs if labor unions do not agree to cost-saving measures.

But on Friday, he softened his stance and said: “A partner is actually somebody who participates in achieving a common goal, so I’m going to give them the chance. If I acted too quickly, it’s not fair.”

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Referring to layoff notices, Emanuel said, “I’m not going to send those out because it would violate, what I think is the spirit and environment and atmosphere I’m trying to construct where I want labor to be a partner. I understand it’s difficult for them. But I’ll tell you this, it’s not as difficult as sending out pink slips.”

The $20 million in cuts are in addition to the $75 million the new mayor authorized on his first full day in office. They would come from not filling up to 200 vacant jobs and ordering seven city health clinics to partner with federally-qualified community health centers.

Emanuel argued that the state has a similar partnership and manages to deliver care for $128 per patient, while the city’s costs are $223. Doing the same at the city level has the potential to deliver better care at a fraction of the cost, the mayor said.

Emanuel said Wednesday that unless the city’s union leaders, who quietly ducked in and out of his office on Monday, come to the table with tens of millions of dollars in work reforms and efficiencies.

“I said if we do this, I don’t have to lay off 625 people,” Emanuel said. “I don’t want to.”

A statement from Chicago Federation of Labor leaders Jorge Ramirez and Tom Villanova earlier this week said “organized labor has been working to identify significant cost savings through efficiencies and best practices on behalf of taxpayers. … We plan to present this report to the Mayor in the coming weeks.”

Ramirez has said he’s hired a “expert municipal budget analyst” who needs two more weeks to pinpoint potential cost savings.

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley left behind a fiscal time bomb — and set the stage for a confrontation between his successor and organized labor — by balancing his final budget with what Emanuel calls “smoke and mirrors.” It anticipates a full-year of savings from unions concessions not yet negotiated.

At midnight Thursday, an agreement expired that required unionized city employees to take the equivalent of 24 unpaid furlough days each year and substitute comp time for cash overtime.

Emanuel has called furloughs a morale killer that did not produce the anticipated savings. He has ended them for the entire city workforce, at a cost of $30 million, and challenged union leaders to come up with alternative savings.

The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire

  • WOZ

    he is only lying when his lips are moving!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • tom Sharp

    A blind man on a walker could move through City Hall and the Ward offices and find 625+ loafers to fire.

  • Pothead

    Come on Rahmulus ! I could spot 625 lazy city union workers from my front porch. Cut the 625 and cut the 20 million $$$ also. Please Don’t cause my faith in you to waver. This city is in a huge hole and we are counting on you.

  • hello

    What if all those 625 employees voted for him?

    Rahm had a TON of union backing/financing when he ran for mayor.

    • tom Sharp

      Hello, “hello” Rahm didn’t have major unions behind him at all. The CTU backed no one and the Cops backed Chico for the two of the biggest unions!

    • jesse jr.


  • retiredinAz1

    Rahm is all talk anyway……….big guy on campus….but nothing to back up….and watch how he will cower from the unions in the near future!

    • Mr electricity Man

      Nope…the unions take him VERY seriously and they know they have to give . Rahm really blindsided the unions here and maybe, just maybe, he realized it and gave the parties involved a little space to work it out. Maybe he realizes that nothing demoralizes his workforce more than these layoff threats.Maybe he just saved 625 jobs in Chicago.Maybe.

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