NYC mayor orders 500 staff, including himself, to take unpaid leave as budget crisis worsens

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio will furlough himself and almost 500 staff members for a week to close a budget gap created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Everyone at the mayor’s office in City Hall will be placed on unpaid furlough for a week at some point between October and March 2021, it was announced on Wednesday.

A total of 495 staff members will be affected, according to The New York Times.

Due to the economic shutdown arising from the coronavirus outbreak, the city has lost $9bn (£6.9bn) in revenue and has made $7bn (£5.4bn) of cuts to the city’s annual budget.

Mr de Blasio has said the week-long furlough will save around $1m (£770,000) – and it may serve as a useful symbol while he continues negotiations regarding broader payroll savings with labour unions representing employees.

He said “it was not a decision I made lightly”, adding: “To have to do this is painful for them and their families, but it is the right thing to do at this moment in history.”

Alongside the furloughs being made, the budget for the mayor’s office will be 12% smaller this year.

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Mr de Blasio said there are no planned pay cuts for any New York City employees, but added: “We never know what the future brings.”

He has warned that 22,000 employees in the city may lose their jobs if savings aren’t found in negotiations with labour unions.

The mayor added: “We’re going to be in a horrible budget situation for years, so this borrowing capacity is to give us a fallback no matter what happens up ahead.”

When asked whether furlough could be applied to the city’s entire workforce of over 320,000, Mr de Blasio said: “Everything’s on the table. We’re talking to labour about any and all ways to save money.”

He is also seeking more borrowing power from state lawmakers in Albany – the capital city of New York state – who have so far been resistant towards the idea.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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