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Emanuel Says Furloughs for City Workers Would End

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 14, 2011 8:20PM

In an attempt to stem the tide of criticism over his "service" ad, Rahm Emanuel said that he would put an end to furlough days if elected mayor.

Emanuel told Chicago News Co-Op that the tax dollars saved with the furlough days isn't as great as expected and also have contributed to lower morale among city employees.

“Morale is horrible,” Emanuel said. “I want to end the furlough days … I will say to leaders of labor, I know this is a bone of contention. I’m ready to eliminate that bone of contention, but be a partner in the other changes I also need to do, because if I’m giving up on the furlough days, which I don’t think has achieved what we need to achieve, [then] I need you to be a partner in the other difficult changes we do need to make.”

The Inspector General's office released a report last week that said the city overstated the amount of money the furlough days actually saved, because it didn't take into account the impact on contributions to the already underfunded pension funds. Most City Hall workers that aren't police or firefighters have taken as many as 24 furlough days a year. the agreement labor unions have with the Daley Administration on furlough days expires shortly after the new mayor takes office.

What isn't known is what a Mayor Emanuel would ask of labor unions if he does away with the furlough days. A closed door meeting with the Chicago Federation of Labor may provide some clues for divining his intentions, however. In that meeting, Emanuel told Federation leaders that he favored cutting pensions for current and new union hires.