Chicago has a rat problem. The furry kind that, according to a CBS Chicago report last year, dwell in the most densely populated areas of the Windy City. And, the worst part? Even though they're from Asia, they're called Norway rats.
They prefer fresh food, but will eat many things such as pet food, dog feces, garbage and plants. If food is scarce, the strongest rats may even eat the weakest and young.
See? They are nasty, don't you think?
For awhile now, Chicago's new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has had to balance budget issues by reassigning city workers from the rat patrol to garbage duty. Back in March, this led the Laborers union to criticize the city's reassignments saying moving people from the Rat Patrol would lead to a bigger rat problem.
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Mayor Rahm, however, begs to differ and, on Tuesday he further upped the ante by accusing the garbage collectors' of chronic absenteeism. Specifically, Emanuel cited their calling out 'sick' on Mondays and Fridays.
In a press release issued by the mayor’s office, Emanuel said the absenteeism charts would be updated monthly to “increase accountability and enhance services” for Chicago taxpayers.
“Chronic absenteeism forces us to reduce tree trimming and rodent control in order to perform garbage collection,” he said.
“As the city faces unprecedented financial challenges, I am committed to protecting the taxpayers and spending every dollar with the absolute certainty that we are providing residents with the services they depend on at the lowest possible cost.”
The Mayor's office released these charts to prove his point.
Average Unscheduled Absences by Day of Week for Refuse Truck Drivers
This metric shows the average number of unscheduled absences taken by refuse truck drivers on any given day of the week. Numbers were calculated from data collected from August 2010 to August 2011.
Bureau of Sanitation - Average Unscheduled Absences by Day of Week for Refuse Collectors
This metric shows the average number of unscheduled absences taken by refuse collectors on any given day of the week. Numbers were calculated from data collected from August 2010 to August 201
Lou Phillips, the union boss at Laborers' Local 1001 was quick to point out:
Lou Phillips, business manager of Laborers Union Local 1001, said the records released Tuesday underscore his argument that the city’s long-standing claim of a 33 percent daily absenteeism rate was exaggerated by lumping together employees who call in sick with those on duty disability and restricted duty.
“These people are the best laborers in the world. Are there bad apples in every bunch? Yes. But, I state at my meeting every month, `You have to come to work.’ I tell them every month that absenteeism is not acceptable, but it does happen,” Phillips said.
The garbage collectors need to tread carefully here. While Rahm Emanuel is no Scott Walker when it comes to government unions, he allegedly has a mean temper and apparently enjoys mailing his enemies dead fish.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com.