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Cook County sends layoff notices to 100

Monday, October 31, 2011
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lisa DONOVAN

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is sending out the first wave of layoff notices Monday for roughly 100 employees under her authority, a spokesman said.

The layoffs are among the estimated 1,055 that Preckwinkle has called for to help close a $315 million budget gap. The layoffs will hit a range of offices under her control from the public defender’s office to the highway department.

The 1,000-plus layoffs will save an estimated $40 million, according to the county budget office.

Preckwinkle said last summer that with 80 percent of the county’s $2.9 billion budget covering payroll costs, layoffs were “inevitable.”

“The president doesn’t take this lightly, but unfortunately this is the economic reality we live in today,” said Owen Kilmer, spokesman for the county board president.

She has asked unionized employees to take eight days off without pay for next year, bringing the layoff numbers to around 500. But, to date, the unions have balked at that proposal.

County Public Defender Abishi Cunningham didn’t have a precise count of workers in his office receiving notices today, but said he hopes the county and the unions will work out a deal as they did before.

“We’re still negotiating,” Cunningham, said adding that he intiailly thought he was going to have layoffs in his office at the start of this year but negotiations avoided that through furloughs.



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