Emanuel, labor find common ground on health plan

September 16, 2011

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There appears to be a slight thaw in the relationship between Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and organized labor. On Friday, the mayor announced a new health plan announced alongside a top union official.

Reached with most labor unions for city employees, the deal will provide extra health screenings and treatments, potentially saving Chicago money on overall health costs.

But if an employee chooses not to sign up, "on-participation has its price," Emanuel said, an extra $50 per month in the worker's healthcare premium.

The deal was brokered with the Chicago Federation of Labor's Jorge Ramirez, who's been critical of the new mayor on other budget issues.

"We've got big issues looming ahead of us, and the more wins that we can pile up where we can be respectful to workers and to taxpayers at the same time is something that we need to engage in," Ramirez said.

Emanuel said negotiations on health were essentially on a separate track from the contentious budget debate.

"And we never allowed those disagreements to jump the rail and knock this out," Emanuel said.

One city union has not signed on to the deal: the Fraternal Order of Police.