Emanuel Reveals Plan To Lay Off 625 City Workers

UPDATED: 7/15/2011 9:00 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel today said he plans to lay off 625 city workers as part of a plan to close a $10 million budget gap.

Emanuel said he will outsource airport and library janitors, benefits management workers and workers at the water billing call center. He also plans to cut seasonal transportation department workers. Under contract, the workers are given a 30 day notice of a planned layoff.

“Today, I took the steps because I cannot wish away the shortfall,” said Emanuel, who had wanted alternative suggestions for savings from unions.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports

Under the plan:

  • Custodial services at the airports and libraries will no longer be provided by city workers, but rather by the companies that currently service the rest of the city;
  • There will be a 75 percent reduction in the seasonal workforce at the Chicago Department of Transportation, which will mean 61 fewer blocks of curb and gutter improvements and the repair of 76 fewer blocks of sidewalk this year;
  • The city’s benefits services will not be managed by the city, but rather by a professional benefits management company; and
  • The city’s water bill call center currently has an average wait time of 20 minutes, and 40 percent of callers hang up before being helped. The service will be outsourced to realize savings and increase efficiencies.

Meanwhile, union leaders say despite the rhetoric, Emanuel hasn’t been talking with them about cost-saving work rule changes he wants to see.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

As WBBM Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports from City Hall, more than once this week, Mayor Emanuel has said he’s given the city’s labor unions time to decide on contract changes that could reduce personnel costs, such as ending time-and-a-half pay for duties before a shift.

“I also believe when it comes to overtime, you should get time-and-a-half, not double time. These are simple reforms,” he said. “The third one, obviously, being paid for 40 hours of work a week, not 35,” he said.

Henry Bayer is president of AFSCME Council 31, which represents 3,500 city workers. He says there have been no formal meetings about any of this.

“We’ve gotten no letter asking for a meeting,” he said. “We got one phone call late in the afternoon, wanting to know what we thought of their proposal. We said, ‘What proposal?’”

The administration disputes that claim.

“We are surprised and disappointed at Mayor Emanuel’s scattershot approach to the city’s budget shortfall,” Bayer said. “We are particularly disappointed that most of his bullets are aimed at front-line employees who do the real work of city government.

Emanuel unilaterally did $20 million in belt-tightening recently to try to erase the $30 million shortfall created by his decision to end mandatory furlough days for city employees. He is asking the unions to come up with an additional $10 million through work rule changes or other means.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel reports

A total of 8,000 to 10,000 union workers could be affected altogether by layoffs and/or work rule changes, reports CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall.

Recent meetings to negotiate work-rule changes have included AFL-CIO chief Jorge Ramirez, Mayor Emanuel himself, and city budget director Alexandra Holt.

Top labor leaders hold court on “At Issue,” at Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Newsradio 780.

One of the city workers facing layoffs is Jeannie Gayles. She told CBS2’s Mike Parker the news hit her “like a ton of bricks.”

For 12 years, she has worked for the city’s Department of General Services. She’s been making $17 an hour as a custodian at the Carter G. Woodson Public Library on the South Side. Now she’s facing the loss of that job.

“None of us know what we’re going to do,” she said. “We’re sitting in limbo right now because we still have mortgages to pay, we have insurance, we have taxes.”

  • Chivi

    Yesterday we had a Dept. of Streets & Sanitation truck come out to fix our streets lights that have been out for almost two weeks. There was one driver, the person fixing the lights and another person on the ground looking up. ComEd does a better and faster job of fixing their electrical problems with one person driving the truck, fixing the light and guess what?? No one is watching him but the customers. It’s time for more layoffs!!!!!

    • Kevin Van Cleave

      You ever work in a lift truck? I think not. Three man crew is normal for safety. I honestly can say I have never seen com-ed, at&t or city bucket trucks improperly using one guy. Who is supposed work the ground controls if a malfunction happens in the air with a one man truck.

  • jublow

    it’s too bad som many of these city union workers are worthless @$$e$! Some of the union workers work hardn, and they look bad when others are lazy…

  • tyronjackson

    i see city workers sitting in city of chicago van scarching instant lotto tickets for hours in my business parking lot… city need to lay off lot more people, that is one small step to recovery.. and all of us can see when we go to any of city of chicago office, how poor their coustmer service and their bad attatude.. Most city workers are taking advantage of their union..

    • Dave

      Maybe the city worker scratching lotto tix was on his lunch? or in your opinion they arent entitled to a lunch. Get facts before you get diarhea of the mouth

  • Francis Lopez

    I agree with Chivi. There are more city employees at a jobsite than what the job requires.

    I admire the guts of Mayor Emanuel. Cut off somemore of the excesses of politicians and employees in city government. Also, I hope he’ll do something about the collective bargaining of unions. Chicago Schools are what they are now because unions protect the under-performing teachers. Unions remove the desire of teachers to be creative, innovative and work harder. All they talk about is more money. Look at Catholic schools. Teachers pay is a lot lower but they are producing better students. Give the students of public schools the choice of which school to go to with the approval of voucher system.

    Manufacturing industry in America is a thing of the past. Why? Unions cannot compete. Gone are the days when almost all able bodied individuals could find a job. I bet, unemployment will remain high for years to come.


    • nauseated

      They need to do something about this retiring at 52 with 75% of their pay for the rest of their lives!! It’s not just a union thing as it’s that way throughout the entire state. If that doesn’t bankrupt Chicago what else could? Nobody in the private sector gets that benefit.

  • bob

    Rahm needs to add those people that used city credit cards for personal use to the list. We only heard of 2 dept heads resigning. They probably were at least 52 and had enough for their 75% pay for the rest of their lives pension.

  • george

    why don’t you start with the three bozo’s needed to change a lightbulb…. i love this country…. where else can you get this kind of comedy every day for nothing….

  • HooDatIS?

    he needs to resign now
    what a loser
    i hope he loses his job soon

  • Dave

    Why is the city spending up to $30,000 per month in rent to lease buildings to operate certain departments out of when the city already OWNS vacant buildings not being utilized? You want to stop city waste? Lets start THERE!!!!

  • Taxpayer 2

    Thank God for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Look at the coarse that the city was headed under our previous mayor. The city was in serious trouble.

    Rahm is doing the right thing by laying off people that needed to be laid off to begin with A lot of them folks were doing nothing, but chatting and lying like the devil all day. Mayor Emanuel will do what is right from a thru z.

    Mayor Emanuel should look into cutting the city council in half too. That will save taxpayers money as well. Mayor Emanuel. Thank you Mayor!

    • Toonces

      Chicago is coarse, for sure.

  • Toonces

    You know what they say about Socialism: “the problem with it is that eventually you run out of other people’s $$$”. Pretty soon the cronies, babes and inbreds will have to find work at Wal-Mart like the rest of the bourgeosie. Gravy train over……….

  • Toonces

    Same old s h ytt. The lazy inbreds will have their union city jobs, and the average bozo janitors are out of work. Typical.

  • Now`s The Time

    the Mayor should also get rid of 25 of the least senior alderman,IMMEDIATELY
    and their staff.Everyone knows alderman don`t do much anyway.Twenty five aldermen could easily do the work of fifty saving the city an awful lot of money.
    Two wards per person makes sense,and now justify`s their jobs.
    Originaly there were 33 aldermen but the number got raised sometime after
    prohibition.Chicago DOES NOT NEED 50 aldermen,C`on Mayor make the move and should us citizens you REALLY mean business!!!!

  • W*T*F*

    All of the city workers that voted for Rahm, good, you getting exactly what you deserve.

  • Raymond Prudente

    Abandoning his liberal brand of politics would regulate the economy and reform government-that’s how he should organize and clean the house.

    Corrupt public officials, employees and abusive police officers who can do enormous damage to our economy. They retired/fired with their thousands, millions and other financial damages to the city. And imposes a burden to the rest of us. That’s not fair, that’s not how the people of Chicago voted for but put us all on a path to a better and honest government!

  • Ken Watson

    Rahm Emanuel is a thief.

  • Larry

    What a joke. This is a quarter step forward when 100 steps forward need to be taken. Perfunctory move. The public will only see “layoffs” in the headline and think Rahm is actually being proactive about the stacked City payroll. You need to lay off 25-33% of City employees to truly cut the fat.

    Rahm only tells half truths and lies. He’s too arrogant to be held accountable to anyone. He’s a joke.

  • jg

    163 comments so far on a sophmoric, uneventful Marilyn Monroe statue, but only 20 on the laying off of 625 people who have family to feed and bills to pay.

    Sad thing is we could pay them a wage to do “something” for the city, or we can now pay unemployment for them to sit at home and worry like the rest of us how they will make ends meet.

  • http://www.politicalhotwire.com/general-political-discussion/56098-democratic-mayor-rahm-emanuel-goes-after-union-jobs-benefits.html#post1471904 Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel Goes After Union Jobs and Benefits.....

    […] […]

  • http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/07/18/emanuel-labor-leaders-to-discuss-planned-layoffs/ Emanuel, Labor Leaders To Discuss Planned Layoffs « CBS Chicago

    […] Emanuel said last week that he will lay off 625 workers as part of a plan to close a $10 million bud… […]

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