City's Budget Woes Leading To Layoffs, Fewer Garbage Pickups

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Sep 30, 2008 6:00PM

Union leaders for city workers have been informed by Daley aides that they should prepare their workers for as many as 1,000 layoffs in the near future due to the city's continuing budget woes. With the city facing a $400 million shortfall, Mayor Daley is slated to unveil the 2009 budget on October 15 and layoffs look to be a major part of saving money. Said Ald. Ed Smith (28th), "Probably everything will have to be done with layoffs." Daley is also eliminating 3,000 vacant positions. The layoffs are projected to save in the neighborhood of $100 million.

The hardest hit union looks to be Laborers Union Local 1001, who will see 300 layoffs in the Streets and Sanitation Department.

That's likely to mean major changes in garbage collection, tree trimming and other housekeeping services. Possibilities range from lengthening the time between pickups -- once-a-week now in most neighborhoods, twice-a-week in congested areas -- to privatizing recycling and shrinking crew sizes.

"They put an average of 350 trucks out-a-day. To cut 300 bodies -- they're probably gonna go to every other week pickup. That's probably the only way they can do it. Either that, or every 10 days," said Lou Phillips, business manager of Laborers Local 1001.

"You're gonna have to look at your garbage an extra three or four days -- and I don't know when they'll be able to get to your bulk. It's gonna create a rodent problem. You might even see a difference in the Loop area, as clean as the Loop is. That's the showcase."

The union proposed alternative plans, including charging a $10 monthly collection fee. An aide for the mayor denies that garbage pickup would be affected but did suggest that it might lead to an increase of crews with just one laborer instead of two.