Nearly 500 mayoral staffers, including Bill de Blasio himself, will be placed on a weeklong furlough in the coming months, as the city attempts to chip away at a $9 billion revenue gap sparked by the pandemic.
The new measure will require all Mayor's Office staff to take five unpaid vacation days between October and March of next year. The policy is expected to save "in the neighborhood" of $1 million, according to the mayor.
De Blasio announced the furloughs on Wednesday, framing the move as a gesture to labor union leaders, who he has called on to find $1 billion in recurring savings to avert 22,000 layoffs in the municipal workforce. He said the move should also send a message to Albany, as he demands state lawmakers authorize longterm borrowing for the city.
"We’re taking this action because it's the thing we have to do now," the mayor said. "I certainly think it says to people that everyone is trying to do what they can, everyone is sacrificing in some way, let’s all work together."
Staffers in the Mayor's Office said they had heard rumbling about possible furloughs, but were surprised that the policy would apply across the board.
"Morale is bad," said one City Hall staffer. "My morale is defunded."
The mayor's chief of staff, Emma Wolfe, broke the news to colleagues in an email on Wednesday morning, shortly after the Times first reported the story.
She cited "an enormous budget challenge in the middle of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression."
"This is a tough decision and we do not take this lightly," the email continued. "We will be constantly reassessing and further action may be needed if we receive no stimulus or long term borrowing. But we are doing all we can to prevent layoffs."