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Aldermen: Libraries Could Stay Open Mondays If Staff Passed Up Raises

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Library Generic (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

Library Generic (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Two Chicago aldermen have a proposal to end the dispute over the closing of the city’s public libraries on Mondays.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, City Council Finance Committee Chairman Edward Burke (14th) and Budget Committee Vice Chairman Brendan Reilly (42nd) are calling on Chicago Public Library employees to forgo a 3.5 percent salary increase they are scheduled to receive this year, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports

The aldermen say the raise will cost the city some $1.6 million – money that could instead be used to rehire most of the 176 employees who were recently laid off and keep the libraries open all day six days a week, the Tribune reported.

Burke and Reilly suggested the move in a letter to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, which represents library workers, the Tribune reported. The union quickly said no.

Instead, AFSCME suggests canceling the plan to roll back the city’s head tax on jobs at larger companies, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, city officials continue to try to persuade the union to accept a 40-hour per week schedule that would keep the libraries open six days a week, but only for four hours on Mondays and Fridays.

The plan to close the libraries on Monday and Friday mornings when kids are in school was Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s stated plan during negotiations for his 2012 budget proposal.

But the mayor said the deal depended on an agreement with the union on more flexible hours, and because the union did not agree, the city had to close the libraries all day on Monday to save money.

Anders Lindall, a spokesman for AFSCME Council, acknowledged that the union is negotiating with the city. Buthe categorically denied that the union had forced the city’s hand.

“Whether a reduction in hours comes for four hours on two days a week or eight hours on one day is not acceptable to people of the city who want and deserve access to their libraries at all times. They shouldn’t be forced to accept reduced access,” Lindall said last week.

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