CFL News
July 27, 2011
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Editorial: Labor’s budget plan is worth careful look

Rahm Emanuel was elected to clean up the city’s fiscal mess...but we hope he’ll take a good hard — and fast — look first at alternative ways to save money, as laid out Tuesday by the Chicago Federation of Labor.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times
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By Editorial

Rahm Emanuel was elected to clean up the city’s fiscal mess, and so we backed him up earlier this month when he announced his intention to lay off 625 city workers.

But we hope he’ll take a good hard — and fast — look first at alternative ways to save money, as laid out Tuesday by the Chicago Federation of Labor. And, for that matter, he had better get real about the only fair and legal process to make changes in union work rules: at the negotiating table with the individual unions.

The CFL, the unions’ umbrella group, can’t just make that happen.

On July 14, Emanuel said he wanted a series of work-rule changes to help save money in the 2011 budget and beyond. He acknowledged he couldn’t impose the changes unilaterally, but he said he would proceed with layoffs if the unions didn’t play ball. In a union town, which Chicago still is, it’s hard to imagine Emanuel was eager to threaten layoffs unless he felt drastic action was absolutely necessary.

At the same time, we’re sympathetic to the CFL, which on Tuesday released a report outlining ways to save $242 million, far more than the $10 million to $12 million Emanuel says he would achieve with work-rule changes or layoffs.

Labor leaders insist they have been willing partners in trying to save money while Emanuel has turned too quickly to confrontation.

The report identifies three areas where the city can save money: Replacing privatized services with city workers; eliminating unneeded middle managers, and using flexible schedules to deploy workers more efficiently.

We’re highly skeptical there’s really $242 million in savings in this. The CFL had a strong motivation to claim any possible savings, and the consultant who wrote the report was forced to whip it out in just three weeks,

That said, we trust Emanuel will prove to be a genuine partner, carefully examining the report and adopting any measures that will save real money and jobs. Emanuel said he already has made some of the recommended cuts.

He owes that much to city workers, the unions and to the taxpayers.

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