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Union: City Can Afford To Maintain Library Hours

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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) — The union representing frontline library employees is all but rejecting a letter from aldermen Edward Burke (14th) and Brendan Reilly (42nd) asking workers to make a sacrifice to preserve library hours.

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, Anders Lindall, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, scoffs at the aldermen’s request that unionized library workers forgo their expected raises to keep the libraries open six days a week.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

He points to the recent cut in the city head tax.

“A city with $23 million in new tax loopholes for corporations this year can afford $3 million for its libraries for the people of all of its neighborhoods,” Lindall said. “A city that saved more than $8 million over and above its targeted efficiencies for the last calendar year and is seeking a lot of credit for doing so, could use less than half that amount to keep the libraries open for the people.”

That, he says, is what the union wants.

Burke and Reilly said earlier this week that the decision to close libraries on Monday could be reversed if the employees passed up their 3.5 percent raises, for a savings of some $1.6 million. They say that money could also be used to rehire most of the 176 Chicago Public Library employees who were recently laid off.

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.

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