Streets and San Gives the Guys a Break
By Kevin Robinson in News on Jul 16, 2009 2:20PM
Photo by Doc 18
"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."