City Labor Unions Offer Cost-Saving Ideas To Avoid Layoffs

CHICAGO (CBS) — Answering Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s call to come up with $10 million in cost savings to avoid 625 layoffs, union leaders on Tuesday offered their own ideas to save nearly $250 million a year.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports that labor leaders claim their report on how to save almost $250 million without laying off rank-and-file city workers is serious.

But $100 million of it is just a guess — the savings from what they call a “full performance review.”

The rest of it comes from some of the things Emanuel was already talking about, although in a slightly different way.

Last week, the mayor announced that he was outsourcing part of the city’s recycling program, saying it would provide “managed competition” between city workers and private businesses.

Emanuel said the move would save the city more than $3 million a year, but it’s a move labor leaders tried to portray as a bad financial deal for the city.

“We need to make sure managed competition is fair competition,” Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez said Tuesday.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

Labor leaders claim the Mayor’s recycling numbers don’t add up, and that city workers could have done the work for between 20% and 55% less than the firms awarded the contracts.

“The city is too quick to award contracts to the private sector without fully exploring its ability to perform work in-house,” Ramirez said.

He called that “insourcing” and claimed it would save $40 million a year. Another $37 million would come from reducing the number of middle management jobs.

“They’re right, middle management deserves review, top management deserves review,” Emanuel said.

The labor leaders did offer suggestions about more efficient ways of doing things. In some cases, they said four 10-hour days would be more productive than five 8-hour days. But they still disagreed on work rules.

For example, CBS 2 found a city crew – consisting of a supervisor, two truck drivers, two laborers, and three city vehicles – assigned to a small sidewalk job that even they seemed to think was a bit of a stretch.

“Alright, you guys get more work up for us,” one of the workers said.

Emanuel has complained about work rules that left workers sitting around and waiting.

But Ramirez said, “it’s our belief that before you go into negotiating work rule changes, or anything else, you should make sure that you’re managing things the way that they should be managed.”

For his part, the mayor said “any part of the budget, from the mayor’s office to work rule reforms and everything between those boundaries is not off limits, it’s on limits.”

Emanuel applauded cement masons who, as CBS 2 reported last night, agreed to work rule changes cutting overtime pay from double time to time-and-a-half. He said if all other unions followed suit, it would save $4 million and hundreds of jobs.

But even that’s small potatoes when it comes to the hundreds of millions in savings contained in labor’s consultants’ report, which you can bet the mayor’s people are going over with a fine tooth comb.

In a letter sent out to labor leaders Tuesday afternoon, Emanuel said, “I appreciate the effort made by the Chicago Federation of Labor in coming forward with today’s ideas. I will review the report with my team so that we can begin to discuss how to incorporate these and other ideas in a way that best serves the city’s taxpayers in 2012 and beyond.”


Emanuel said he has already taken action on some of the suggestions mentioned in the report, including cutting the mayor’s office payroll by 10 percent and cutting 100 non-union management positions. He also said he’s put a hiring freeze on an additional 175 management positions.

The mayor claimed those moves have saved the city $21 million.

“And my administration is not stopping there. As you know, I have instructed my cabinet to do a top-to-bottom review of each department to identify savings and deliver services more efficiently in the future,” Emanuel added. “No idea is too small and no area of government is immune from review or reform. As I said in my inaugural address, if we all give a little, no one will have to give too much. “

He also announced the formation of an “official working group” to focus on reforms that could save the city a minimum of $100 million. He’s appointed his deputy mayor, budget director and government affairs director to the team and has asked labor leaders to name a group of partners to team up with that group.

  • sik of politics

    why are they working overtime anyway? put more people on and get the job done on straight time.

  • fioretti

    daley didnt get this done because he liked to be the mob’s b**ch, and f***the taxpayers

  • save our money

    Slain Officer Michael Bailey Gets Poor Performance Marks–After He Died
    here is a good start of cleaning the city fat cat payroll. I see about 500 to 600 k a year savings here fire these people who review and gave a bad score to a dead officer of city of Chicago. How many fat cats can be removed without hurting those who do work hard

  • WA

    The average person might pay 33 cent for a ink pen, however, the City pays the price of a full box for one . Perhaps the contacts for supply purchases should be reviewed.

  • 80 City Traffic Aides Laid Off « CBS Chicago

    […] Last month, Emanuel warned of 625 layoffs among city employees, unless union leaders came up with $1… Union leaders responded by offering ideas to save nearly $250 million per year, although $100 million of t he savings comes from the vague plan of a “full performance review.” Share this No comments // […]

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