Brothers and Sisters:
This week County Board President P unveiled her very disappointing FY 12 budget plan which includes the loss of more than $50 million in revenue as the result of her decision to remove ¼ of one percent of the sales tax.
The dollars lost from that decision alone would have saved nearly all of the County jobs now scheduled for elimination under the President’s proposed budget.
Instead of assuming responsibility for her actions, President P is attempting to shift the blame for her proposed layoffs onto frontline County employees—demanding that union members take six unpaid holidays and two unpaid furlough days to help close the budget gap. She presented this proposal as an ultimatum just prior to unveiling her budget—giving the unions only a few days to respond.
Under her proposal, County employees would not be paid for holidays–Christmas, New Years, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving–not only this year, but for years to come.
Cook County AFSCME local presidents came together to speak with one voice—declaring that Presidemt P’s demand for unpaid days was not a serious proposal nor a serious effort to address the County’s budget problem.
In presenting her budget plan, President P again sought to pressure employees into taking unpaid days as she announced the layoff of over 1,000 County employees.
The County estimates that approximately 250 of those targeted for layoff would be employees in AFSCME bargaining units. These planned layoffs will be in the following offices: Assessor, Chief Judge, State’s Attorney, Public Defender, and Health System. In our office, 57 total members of our local,
and sister locals that represent support staff and our investigators have received layoff notices.
AFSCME is fighting against the proposed budget. The layoffs would have a devastating impact on employees and their families—while diminishing the quality of representation that we provide our clients, in the end, costing the County more money in the long run.
Unfortunately, the time for public input and Board review of the budget plan is very brief. Despite President P’s claims of openness and transparency, she is attempting to push through a vote on the budget by November 18—just three weeks after its introduction.
So there is no time to waste.
Public hearings on the budget are scheduled to begin next week. The times, dates and locations can be found by clicking here.
You should attend as many of the public hearings as possible. Council 31 and your executive board will be there to present testimony about the harmful consequences of making these cuts.
It’s also critical that you contact your County Commissioner right away to urge him or her to work to amend the budget in order to maintain services and prevent layoffs. Call today to tell your Commissioner: Don’t cut services or lay off employees!
County Board members and their contact information has been sent as an attachment to all 316 members on our email burst list. It’s easy for members to get on that list, just send and email with your name and job site to firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s essential that we stand up against President P’s attempt to balance the budget on our backs. We have to send a strong message that these cuts will hurt vital services, harm those who lose their jobs, and damage the fabric of our communities.
Please note that if you have signed up on the Secretary to the County Board’s Website to speak at the public hearings, make sure to bring 30 copies of your statement and the time limit is 3 minutes.
K. S. Galhotra
AFSCME Local 3315
The Cook County Public Defenders Association