Chicago Mayor: Firefighters Not Immune from Reform

Chicago firefighters “do a great job,” but they’re not “immune from the change and reform” needed to solve the city’s financial crisis and deliver “greater value” to taxpayers, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday.

FRM/FFN: Chicago Union Calls Mayors Cuts “Insulting”, “Ridiculous”

Tom Ryan, president of Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2, has characterized the cost-cutting contract concessions the mayor is seeking from firefighters when their contract expires June 30 as “horrendous,” “insulting” and “ridiculous.”

Emanuel refused to respond in kind, nor would he discuss specifics of his proposal to target perks that, one union leader claimed, add $7,000 to the average firefighter’s annual paycheck.

He simply said that “change” and “reform” are required everywhere and that no interest group gets a pass.

“Our firefighters do a great job serving the city . . . They do hard work. We will make sure that they’re properly – not only compensated, but respected for the work that they do . . . [But] no part of the budget is immune from change and reform to get greater value for the taxpayers as well as greater service for the citizens of Chicago . . . We’re not shying away from difficult decisions,” Emanuel said. “You describe [the proposals] as cuts. [But] there are places that, while negotiations are private, that I would say are reforms.”

Ald. Nick Sposato (36th), a former Chicago firefighter, sided with his union brethren.

“It looks almost like you’re looking at a 10 percent pay cut to me. That’s pretty drastic I think,” said Sposato, one of the big losers in the ward remap.

“The city starts here. The union starts there and, somewhere, they’ll come together and resolve all of this, I would hope, and cooler heads will prevail.”

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