Streets and San Gives the Guys a Break

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jul 16, 2009 2:20PM

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Photo by Doc 18
While Laborers Union Local 1001 was one of the city unions that agreed to concessions as part of Mayor Daley's master plan to save the budget, the city did give one concession to Streets and Sanitation workers, without even being asked by the union. With Newly appointed Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Tom Byrne has implemented a disciplinary amnesty. In a department where nearly one third of the workforce is absent. Every day.

"You're talking about a department with a lot of bad actors -- guys who have been around for 30 years and probably should have been fired a long time ago," a source told the Sun-Times. "Those who have never had a problem will now be thrown into the pit with the guy with 10 years of ongoing problems. Does that mean that every time you change commissioners everything comes out of the disciplinary file?" Byrne refused to comment on the matter, telling the Bright One that his decision was based on his desire to reduce absenteeism in the department. By not disciplining people that are absent from work. "We need to get guys to come to work," said Byrne. "We're gonna put out new work rules in regards to working, show-up time and getting people present for work so I can do something about absenteeism to raise the morale of the department." In fact, absenteeism has been a chronic issue in Streets and San, one that plagued the previous commissioner Michael Picardi. "Thirty percent of my laborer work force doesn't come to work," Picardi told the city council last fall. "The one-laborer truck was born out of necessity. It was something we developed because I can't afford to budget for 30 percent relief. If we did, it would cost the city $19 million to have two men on every truck to cover that relief."

Update: Daley later denied the allegation. According to a report in the Sun-Times, Daley, speaking at a press conference, said:

"Today, there was a story saying my new commissioner Tom Byrne is allowing Streets and Sanitation employees with discipline problems to start all over from scratch. That is a complete lie," the mayor said.

"Essentially, we're going to give a pass to slackers, people who don't show up. That's a complete lie. This is a phony story… And I'm not mad because she'll say I'm mad and you'll get a picture."

Pressed on what Byrne did agree to do for the union, Daley said, "Nothing. To talk to them. He will talk to them. This is a phony story."