There is wasteful spending in the city budget- and I’m not talking about Chicago Police officers who abandon their posts to have sex with women while they should be on duty. Last week, the city’s Inspector General Joseph Ferguson found $18 million that could easily be trimmed from the budget.
The city of Chicago employs a taxi service, 200 unionized city truck drivers, to drive city crews to and from job sites. Your street has a pothole that needs repair? A city crew of five will come out to make the repair. Four will actually work on the repair, while one sits in the truck reading the newspaper.
After the repair of the pothole is complete, the same crew moves on to fix something else in another neighborhood. The crew packs up the truck and our taxi driver goes back into action, driving the crew to its next job. When the crew gets there, the same four exit the truck and make the repair, while one stays behind listening to AM sports talk radio.
The job of city crew taxi driver is one that costs Chicago taxpayers $90,000.00 annually in total compensation. $90,000 for a person who works a couple hours a day; $90,000 for a person who watches other city employees earn their paychecks.
The contract with Teamsters Local 700- that provides the union driver position- was signed by Mayor Daley in 2007 and runs ten years. The contract prohibits the city from transferring certain responsibilities to other employees (translation, a “driver” is unable to be a “laborer” and vice versa). That contract also prohibits the city from subcontracting the driver to another company- as it would trigger union layoffs. When asked on Friday, Mayor Daley did not have an adequate excuse for not negotiating an end to this Teamsters’ rule when he negotiated the contract in 2007, saying “You have to give and take.”
Yes, apparently the taxpayer gives and the mayor’s friends again take, to the tune of $90,000.00 annually.
These drivers cost the city $18 million a year. We pay these union drivers $18 million a year to sit and listen to the radio, read newspapers, and literally watch the city crews’ paint dry.
Now you know why Chicago was in a $650 million deficit last year.
Now you know why Mayor Daley desperately had to privatize parking meters at a discount.
Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel vowed to cut $75 million from our budget. Hopefully, with some finesse against the union, our incoming mayor can fix another one of Mayor Daley’s mistakes and save Chicago at least $18 million.