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*** UPDATED x3 - AFSCME says Emanuel never tried to discuss changes *** Emanuel essentially gives unions another month to come to the table

Friday, Jul 15, 2011

* From the Tribune

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he will send lay off notices to up to 625 city employees today he tries to close a $30 million budget hole.

Custodians, call center operators at the city’s water department and seasonal workers at the Department of Transportation will be among those affected.

Emanuel said he will close an entire $30 million budget hole left by the expiration of a deal with City Hall labor unions for unpaid days off. The mayor previously had turned up the pressure on unions for concessions or cost-cutting ideas at a series of news conferences.

* But is this for real? Are these 625 city jobs going to immediately disappear, or is this yet another delay to the threats he’s been issuing for weeks? Read all the way to the bottom of the Sun-Times story and you’ll see the answer

Last week, the mayor turned up the heat on labor by pinpointing three of the nine work-rule changes he is seeking. They are: time-and-a-half for overtime, instead of double-time; a 40-hour work week, instead of 35 hours and straight-time for prepping a vehicle at the start of a shift instead of time-and-a-half.

Those three changes alone would save the city $3.2 million and spare 200 union jobs, the mayor said.

The layoff notices still give union leaders 30 days to come around.

If they agree to those three reforms and select $6.8 million more from the mayor’s $19 million list — or pinpoint an equivalent amount of savings elsewhere in the budget — then the immediate crisis would be averted. At least until Round Two. [Emphasis added.]

The labor unions reportedly intend to talk this over on Monday.

* Here are the work rule changes demanded by the mayor…

* Instead of double overtime, the city would pay employees time-and-a-half;

* For prep time, city employees would receive their regular pay, not overtime pay;

* Workers would be expected to work a 40-hour week, not a 35-hour week

* Workers doing the same job would receive the same pay, no matter what union they belong to;

* Salaried employees will receive the same number of sick days and holidays as hourly employees;

* The city would eliminate rate differences for driving different vehicles;

* Rate differences for operating different non-vehicle equipment would be eliminated;

* A worker who works alone on a truck will not receive more pay than if he or she works as part of a crew; and

* Union apprenticeship programs would be enhanced to achieve cost savings.

* And here are the items announced today…

* Custodial services at the airports and libraries will no longer be provided by city workers, but rather by the companies that currently services the rest of the city;

* There will be a 75 percent reduction in the seasonal workforce at the Chicago Department of Transportation, which will mean 61 fewer blocks of curb and gutter improvements and the repair of 76 fewer blocks of sidewalk this year;

* The city’s benefits services will not be managed by the city, but rather by a professional benefits management company; and

* The city’s water bill call center currently has an average wait time of 20 minutes, and 40% of callers hang up before being helped. The service will be outsourced to realize savings and increase efficiencies for Chicago’s taxpayers.

These steps, which may impact up to 625 jobs, will result in a savings of $10-12 million over the remainder of this year.

Also, notice that the press release says the cuts “may impact up to…”

*** UPDATE 1 *** From Charles Thomas’ Twitter feed

Big trade unions from whom #Rahm wants work rule changes go untouched by layoffs. Low-paid workers take hit.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer…

“Mayor Emanuel’s announced intention to lay off 625 employees will diminish the availability and quality of city services on which Chicago residents depend. It will also increase the ranks of the unemployed, raising Chicago’s already too-high jobless rate.

“We are surprised and disappointed at Mayor Emanuel’s scattershot approach to the city’s budget shortfall. We are particularly disappointed that most of his bullets are aimed at frontline employees who do the real work of city government.

“The vast majority of city employees are out there every day giving their best efforts to the wide array of jobs that are essential to meeting the needs of Chicago’s citizens.

“Contrary to Mayor Emanuel’s claim, neither he nor his representatives have ever made any attempt to meet with our union to negotiate changes to work rules affecting AFSCME members. If the mayor were serious about attempting to change any work rule, he would have taken the appropriate measures to engage in such discussions. The fact that he has never done so is clear evidence that his attempt to blame union work rules for the city’s massive deficit is mere public relations gimmickry.

“AFSCME has been working closely with the Chicago Federation of Labor in an effort to conduct a serious review of city operations based on direct input from frontline employees. We intend to develop recommendations that have the potential to effectuate real cost-savings while actually improving service delivery. We will continue in that endeavor, despite the Mayor’s irresponsible actions today, because we believe it is the best way to make Chicago the city that works even better. In that spirit we call on the Mayor to rescind his layoff threat and work collaboratively to reduce costs while protecting city services and jobs.” [Emphasis added.]

*** UPDATE 3 *** From the Chicago Federation of Labor….

We are perplexed by the decision of Mayor Emanuel to announce layoffs and the further privatization of city services today.

We are greatly concerned about the 625 families and workers who did nothing wrong and did nothing to create the budget deficit we faced two years ago as well as today.

I want them to be assured that their union leadership will fight for them, their rights and their jobs.

Mayor Emanuel asked us to be a partner and come up with ideas to save the city money through identifying efficiencies in government operations.

We took him at his word and agreed to help.

The unions representing workers at the city have been operating under good faith to develop ways to make the city and its departments operate more efficiently and provide better service to taxpayers.

We believe the Mayor is serious about and committed to making the city run better and more efficiently and we share his urgency.

That is why we have taken the extraordinary step to hire expert budget analysts to help develop ideas in a way that will be useful to the Mayor and his to team.

But before we balance the budget on the backs of working people, we should look at better ways to run city government.

City workers have shared the sacrifices over the last few years.

Mayor Emanuel’s decision to layoff as many as 625 workers today is unfortunate for the city, it’s unfortunate for the people who rely on city services, and it’s unfortunate for the labor-management process.

We notified the Mayor earlier this week that our report would not be ready today, and he accepted that. It will not be ready Monday, either.

We aren’t stalling. We are serious about this process and we want to do it right. This issue is too important to the city and the taxpayers to do things half-heartedly.

Mayor Emanuel presented some facts this morning that need correction:

There have been no negotiations over work rule changes.

When Tom Villanova and I met with Mayor Emanuel, we were presented with ideas—less detail than you were given today.

In fact, before he mentioned his desire to share his ideas, we made it clear that if he wanted to negotiate these, his team needed to reach out to the authorized individuals and adhere to the contractual process.

That process did not begin until the end of the day Tuesday when a few phone calls were placed.

Another point of clarification:

There have been no deadlines given by the city.

June 30 was never a deadline to us.

We didn’t agree to extend the furlough agreement, and the city never presented it that way.

July 15 was never a deadline for presenting our efficiency ideas.

There is no doubt that labor and management can–and should–come together in ways to save the city money.

We have already demonstrated that through the LMCC—the Labor Management Cooperation Committee.

Since its inception, the LMCC has led to roughly $78 million in savings in health care for the city and its sister agencies. $20-30 million of that savings goes toward the city.

The apprenticeship program is another way we can save money, bringing work back in house where it can be done cheaper, and create job opportunities throughout our communities.

This is an idea labor brought to the city three years ago but it declined to move forward.

We’re not looking for credit. The Mayor can take the credit. We just want to help the city save money and people save jobs.

For too long, mismanagement and scandal have plagued City Hall and put taxpayers in a difficult position.

That’s why Mayor Emanuel’s decision to lay off these workers and privatize services without really engaging in the process is both perplexing and disappointing to all of us.

When there’s a fire, you don’t pour gasoline on it. You pour water on it.

We’ve shared the sacrifice. We’re willing to be partners. But this is no way to treat a partner.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


14 Comments
  1. - Thomas paine - Friday, Jul 15, 11 @ 12:01 pm:

    Pretty strange that the city just posted 35 openings for seasonal cement mixers to work on curbs and gutters at cdot. That department is already way understaffed.


  2. - mokenavince - Friday, Jul 15, 11 @ 12:29 pm:

    I think the unions will go along with most of the
    work rule changes, they have been a long time coming. Nobody in these times should want more lay-offs.


  3. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Jul 15, 11 @ 12:43 pm:

    Government employment is one of the key factors driving unemployment. This is part of a trend that is holding back the economy. In June, all sectors except government were flat or adding jobs.

    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm


  4. - Thomas paine - Friday, Jul 15, 11 @ 12:52 pm:

    Charles thomas is right..


  5. - Wumpus - Friday, Jul 15, 11 @ 1:06 pm:

    Good move, they are already asking them to do more all while thier rasies are being taken away.


  6. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 15, 11 @ 2:12 pm:

    - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Jul 15, 11 @ 12:43 pm:

    Government employment is one of the key factors driving unemployment. This is part of a trend that is holding back the economy. In June, all sectors except government were flat or adding jobs.”
    I am seeing this meme increasingly recently– heard it on NPR this morning in fact. It is a meaningless point, since governments have no money left and are swamped in debt, with an increasingly skeptical electorate about more tax increases. Saying the economy will rebound by increasing taxes to fund government employment is farcical.


  7. - railrat - Friday, Jul 15, 11 @ 2:29 pm:

    Curious, other than the Hoisting Engineers(local 150?) which other labor organizations have apprenticeship agreements with the city ??


  8. - chi - Friday, Jul 15, 11 @ 2:45 pm:

    =* There will be a 75 percent reduction in the seasonal workforce at the Chicago Department of Transportation, which will mean 61 fewer blocks of curb and gutter improvements and the repair of 76 fewer blocks of sidewalk this year;=

    Charles Thomas is completely wrong. See above- those are operating engineers, carpenters, laborers, cement finshers, etc.

    Don’t let the argument get framed without looking at the obvious facts. Where do you think the “savings” the Mayor is claiming would come from? It’s not from privatizing city functions.

    Right now, and I haven’t seen the City’s accounting for this 12 million, but most all of it is coming from the elimination of the seasonal crews in CDOT. That work is not being privatized, it’s being eliminated. And those are “the big trade unions” that would take the hit.

    A further point- that seasonal CDOT work makes up the bulk of alderman’s menus. So they won’t be very pleased with this layoff. Yet to see if they will do anything about it, though.


  9. - wordslinger - Friday, Jul 15, 11 @ 3:26 pm:

    I’m always leery of these stories. I remember when Big Jim instituted a “hiring freeze” and all that meant in practice is that you had to go through his patronage guy for a waiver.


  10. - mokenavince - Friday, Jul 15, 11 @ 3:42 pm:

    Looks like I was wrong,we have a new Sheriff in town. Maybe the next time the union bosses will
    get up off their asses and call the Mayor. Duh
    Look for more privatization of jobs.


  11. - railrat - Friday, Jul 15, 11 @ 3:46 pm:

    spot on mokenavince, maybe golf and baseballgames need to be put on the backburner ?


  12. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Jul 15, 11 @ 5:40 pm:

    The amount of seasonal cement finishers and hoisting engineers is less than 20 at CDOT majority are laborers who have worked seasonally under constant threat of not being called back to work. Hence a seasonal force that was over 300 laborers down to less than 100 in the last 10 years.


  13. - railrat - Friday, Jul 15, 11 @ 5:54 pm:

    Mr. Paine, so the Laborers are doing the majority of the craft work that used to be done by multiple crafts? are they the base of the collective bargaining issue? I think the unions refer to it as jurisdiction?!


  14. - Thomas Paine - Saturday, Jul 16, 11 @ 8:48 am:

    railrat…..there is not much craft work when it comes to curbs and gutters at CDOT. There are cement finishers involved but they are majority career service and not seasonal employees same as the 150 operators who remove the curbs, sidewalks…etc. There are only a few seasonal 150 operators and cement finishers. These layoff notices are directed at the SEASONAL WORKFORCE which is in the majority laborers.


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