City Managers to Take Unpaid Furlough

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jul 30, 2008 2:10PM

2008_7_city_workers.jpgThe Chicago City Council agreed on Tuesday to mandatory unpaid furloughs of two-days for non-union city employees and three day furloughs for those who are unrepresented or are earning more than $75,000. The city expects to save an estimated $3.3 million, as they scramble to close an expected $400 million deficit in the city's budget 2009 fiscal year budget. But the pain won't stop there. The mayor refused to give specifics on layoffs or furloughs for front-line city workers, saying he wanted to talk to union leaders representing city workers first. "You have to sit down and talk to these people...They understand how important these jobs are to them...We're gonna work with them...If you can work this out and you can keep a number of people working, it helps the economy," Daley said. Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon said "they're not asking for anything yet, [but] everything is on the table. You can assume that furlough days are part of the mix. Layoffs could be part of the mix...We'll be united wherever we make our stand. We're gonna have a coalition meeting next week to discuss what actions the unions will take collectively - if any."

One union leader, speaking to NBC5 anonymously, said that Chief Financial Officer Paul Volpe and Intergovernmental Affairs Director John Dunn had warned him to be ready for the worst. "They said it's going to be very bad. I said, 'There's always a black hole when we're in negotiations.' They said, 'This is more than a black hole,'" the union leader said. "They're looking for cooperation. They're probably looking at unpaid furlough days again. They said that could be one of the ways we could show a cooperative effort."

Noting that this is the worst economic downturn he's seen since becoming mayor, Daley said nothing is off the table. He told Chicago Public Radio, "This is a real crisis, I think when you look at what’s happened across states and now cities. It’s a major problem now."

Photo by TheeErin