Even in Democratic Chicago, city unions under fire

By DON BABWIN | October 26, 2011 | 2:40 PM EDT

In this photo taken Oct. 21, 2011, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, right, and John Coli, president of Teamsters Joint Council 25, listen at a news conference at McCormick Place where agreements were announced with two labor groups that would lower costs for exhibitors at the convention facility. Emanuel has taken on the unions since he took office, pressing them to bring down their costs and find ways to improve the way city services are delivered. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing the city's unions in a way they have never been challenged before.

He's criticized rules that give some city employees overtime pay to prep their machinery. He's battling the teachers' union over lengthening the school day. And he helped broker a deal to ease rules at the city's mammoth convention center.

Other officials across the country have taken on organized labor as they try to solve daunting budget problems. In Chicago, though, it's a Democratic mayor in a city where for years the party's political machine kept mayors in office.

Union leaders say Emanuel is trying to turn the public against them and is only telling part of the story.

Emanuel insists he's not anti-union but that in tough times, unions must make sacrifices.