08/14/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Daley Lays Off 431 City Workers After Unions Don't Blink


431 city workers were laid off Wednesday after two unions and the Daley administration were unable to reach an agreement by a 5 p.m. deadline, the Tribune reports:

"Unfortunately, it's clear there won't be an agreement," said mayoral spokeswoman Jacquelyn Heard. "Today is their last day on the city payroll."

Daley had left the door open at a morning press conference, extending an earlier midnight deadline to Wednesday evening, but he spoke with finality at a lunchtime speech, Chicago Public Radio reports:

I did not want this to happen. And it could have been avoided, and I firmly believe that. I feel very sorry for them and their families. Because at 5 o'clock - 4:30 - they're off.

Listen to Daley's entire address here.


Mayor Daley said Wednesday that layoffs will begin for 431 unionized city workers if their unions can't agree to revised contracts by the end of today.

"I didn't want to lay anyone off," Daley said at a news conference. But "it's better to have a job and give up something than to have no job at all."

Daley praised the dozens of city unions that agreed to contract concessions to preserve jobs and held out faint hope that the two holdouts-- Teamsters Union 726 and AFSCME Council 31-- would reconsider before the layoffs become effective later today.

An AFSCME spokesman told Chicago Public Radio that the union has presented alternative plans to the city and remains open to negotiating.

Daley also disputed a layoff-related story in Wednesday's Sun-Times as "completely false." City Hall reporter Fran Spielman wrote that the Department of Streets and Sanitation, which avoided 323 threatened layoffs, will reverse a longstanding policy of "progressive discipline."

Byrne's decision to wipe the slate clean in a department at the center of the Hired Truck and city hiring scandals would turn that time-honored policy on its ear.

First-time offenders with otherwise clean disciplinary records would apparently be treated the same as chronic offenders.

Brandishing a copy of the article, Daley dismissed the reporting as completely inaccurate, though he never offered any specific contradictory evidence.


The midnight deadline passed for the two holdout unions to agree to concessions without any resolution. Mayor Daley is scheduled to discuss the pending layoffs and any other potential consequences Wednesday morning around 10:30 a.m. Check back for details.

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With a midnight deadline looming and hundreds of city jobs on the line, one more Chicago employees union has blinked while two others continue their stare-down with Mayor Daley.

Laborers Union Local 1001 signed a two-year deal Monday agreeing to the same cost-cutting measures that 40 other unions have also accepted, such as 24 unpaid furlough days a year, comp time instead of overtime pay, and unpaid city holidays.

"To keep the 300 people working, it's something we'll have to live with," Laborers Local 1001 secretary-treasurer Lou Phillips told the Chicago Sun-Times.

According to the Sun-Times, Daley was prepared to reduce 100 more garbage collection crews from two laborers per truck to one if a deal with the union could not be reached.

A spokesman for the two hold-out unions, Teamsters Union 726 and AFSCME Council 31, told Chicago Public Radio that its members are some of the lowest paid city workers and can't afford to take furlough days.

AFSCME leaders on Monday released a letter they sent to Daley asking the mayor for an agreement that doesn't include laying off city workers.

"Despite the mayor's claims to the contrary, his staff has refused -- including as recently as a few hours ago -- to meet with the union to discuss any alternative to layoffs since AFSCME members voted overwhelmingly to reject the Mayor's initial demand that they take 46 unpaid days over the next two years, equal to a 10 percent pay cut," read the letter from Henry Bayer, executive director of AFSCME Council 31.

At a Tuesday press conference Daley, flanked by labor leaders, urged the hold-outs to concede or face 431 layoffs Wednesday.

"If we do not come to an agreement by midnight, then tomorrow will be the last day on the city payroll for 431 employees represented by the Teamsters and AFSCME," the Tribune reports.