Lost amid the press reports surrounding the national debt ceiling debate and Minnesota’s state government shutdown is the story of one midwest politician’s heavy handed approach to balance his budget at the expense of union workers, laying off over 600 city employees while advancing a privatization scheme. Or at least that’s what the progressive bloggers would be screaming if it didn’t happen to be one of their own: Emanuel Announces 625 Layoffs
Emanuel outlined the concessions he wanted from Chicago unions as he looks for $30 million in cuts. Labor leaders said Emanuel didn’t give them specifics on what he wanted until Thursday, but the mayor is going forward with the promised cuts anyhow.
The city will outsource custodial services at O’Hare International Airport and the libraries, he said, and bring in a professional benefits management company. It also will outsource the call center at the water department and cut seasonal construction at the transportation department.
All together that’s $10-12 million in savings.
“My duty as mayor is to protect our city’s taxpayers, not the city payroll,” Emanuel said in a statement. “I pledged to close this shortfall and offer the city a balanced, realistic budget. Despite ongoing talks between union leaders and members of my administration, they have not embraced any of the needed changes. And no amount of smoke and mirrors can put off the tough decisions any longer.”
Labor leaders told NBC Chicago the wait to negotiate wasn’t all their fault. They weren’t clear what Emanuel wanted in the deal to save the jobs, they said, and they just this week learned with whom to negotiate inside his administration.
Now, I must say I find it quite curious that my progressive, netroot friends at Daily Kos would continue to email me updates on the recall elections in Wisconsin but when “attacks” on public union workers are launched by members of their side of the aisle, they have nothing to say. No emails about a petition to sign condemning Mayor Emanuel, no demonstrations being organized. No exposes from CanyonRat digging up links to Emanuel’s political supporters who might financially benefit from this privatization scheme. Why, it’s almost as if their support of public unions wasn’t based in principles but rather based on political opportunism.