Chicago Police may miss pay hike because of union mistake: sources
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org March 28, 2012 12:32AM
Mike Shields, President of The Fraternal Order of Police talks about the appointment of Garry McCarthy to be the new Chicago Police Superintendent, Garry McCarthy. Monday, May 2, 2011 | Brian Jackson~Chicago Sun-Times
Updated: April 29, 2012 8:17AM
Chicago Police officers may have to wait until next year to negotiate a new contract with the city — and forgo a retroactive pay increase in 2012 — thanks to an embarrassing oversight by the new leadership of the Fraternal Order of Police, City Hall sources said Tuesday.
Police and fire contracts are due to expire on June 30, but a little-known clause requires unions to notify the city between Feb. 1 and March 1 that they intend to terminate their contracts and commence negotiations on a new agreement. If they don’t serve notice during that time, the contract automatically rolls over for another year.
City firefighters and unions representing police sergeants, lieutenants and captains notified the city within the required time frame.
But City Hall contends FOP President Mike Shields missed the March 1 deadline, giving Mayor Rahm Emanuel an opening to either put off negotiations until June 30, 2013, or negotiate only those items that would cut taxpayer costs.
A mayoral confidant emphasized that the city has not yet decided whether to “stick it in the ear” of rank-and-file police officers.
“But we’re reserving the right to be selective in what we talk about because they blew it,” the source said.
Emanuel is expected to take a hard line in negotiations, specifically targeting a sick-leave policy that allows officers to take up to 365 days off every two years; a $1,800-a-year uniform allowance and yearly duty-availability pay — $2,800 that compensates officers for being on call at any time.
In an email to the Chicago Sun-Times, Shields maintained his letter to the city was “well within the timeline” required by state law.
“There is no issue . . . regarding the FOP’s intent to modify the terms and conditions of the labor agreement that expires June 30,” he wrote. “While others may believe that negotiations should be about technicalities and posturing, the FOP believes the upcoming negotiations . . . should be about protecting the citizens of Chicago while respecting the incredible work performed by members of the FOP. The difficult issues out there like manpower need to be resolved by both sides sitting down to make the city safer.”
Two years ago, Chicago taxpayers dodged a fiscal bullet when an arbitrator awarded rank-and-file police officers a 10 percent pay increase over five years, their smallest increase in 30 years.
The pay raise fell short of the 16.1 percent once offered by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. The FOP initially demanded 24 percent.
The city also won several key provisions aimed at improving police performance, including random alcohol testing for on-duty officers; mandatory drug and alcohol testing when officers discharge their weapons on or off-duty, and the addition of Ecstasy and anabolic steroids to drug testing.
Putting the FOP off for a year or cherrypicking certain items to negotiate could exacerbate tensions among rank-and-file officers bracing for an international onslaught of protesters during the May 20-21 NATO summit.
During the last go-around with the city, Daley initially offered the 16.1 percent pay raise, then yanked the offer off the table after the economy tanked. That prompted the FOP to stage a raucous protest timed to embarrass Daley before the site selection committee for the 2016 Olympic Games, a competition the city lost.