Chicago Mayor Emanuel, city union workers stare down Thursday deadline for concessions

June 28, 2011

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Chicago's mayor and thousands of city union workers are staring down a Thursday deadline to come up with an agreement that could save the city tens of millions of dollars.

Former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's administration banked on $32 million in labor concessions to help balance the 2011 budget. But that concession agreement is set to expire Thursday night, even though there are six months left in the budget year.

"Those two documents are [in] inherent contradiction," Emanuel told reporters Tuesday following an unrelated event. "I didn't create it. But I will solve it."

Emanuel is vowing to work with unions to come up with the remaining $16 million in savings that Daley had built into this year's budget. Emanuel said forcing workers to take unpaid days off is bad for morale, and hasn't saved as much as the city projected. But aside from taking furloughs off the table, the mayor offered few details on how he'd reach an agreement with labor.

"I'm committed to seeing through the $30 million in savings," he said. "Make no mistake about it."

Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez will meet with Emanuel on Tuesday, according to the group's spokesman, Nick Kaleba. But Kaleba didn't say what kind of concessions unions were willing to make, saying it was Emanuel who called the meeting in the first place.

A correction has been made to this story regarding the day the meeting took place.