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Police union gets personal with Emanuel in NATO pay dispute

Updated: May 30, 2012 5:34PM

The Fraternal Order of Police on Wednesday took its campaign for NATO Summit pay to a new and personal level, accusing Mayor Rahm Emanuel of trying to “avoid paying” police officers the overtime compensation they earned protecting him and the city.

“We protected the mayor’s personal residence from anarchists. You’d think he could at least pay us what we are owed,” union president Mike Shields wrote, in a provocative new posting on the union’s website.

“The city clearly wants to push this off for years to avoid paying you the money that you earned.”

In the posting, Shields claims the FOP offered to mediate the four class-action grievances tied to the summit at a mediation session already scheduled in the coming weeks.

He claims the city refused and has not yet responded to any of the four union grievances.

Nor has the Emanuel administration corrected, what an administration official described as a “paperwork error” created by giving officers who worked overtime during the summit overtime forms with the “pay” box already checked instead of allowing them to choose between pay and comp time, as the contract requires, Shields said.

Asked why he’s turning the NATO dispute into a personal attack against the mayor, Shields said, “The Chicago Police Department made Mayor Emanuel shine throughout the nation and the world. Yet, he won’t stand up for us and say, ‘You guys had my back. I’m going to have yours.’”

He added, “We did what the mayor asked of us. Then, his administration turns around and will not make good on its obligation. They just don’t want to pay the bill. By denying the overtime, the city is able to defer its payment, even though they know they’re wrong, for up to two years.”

Police Department spokeswoman Melissa Stratton responded to the FOP’s new broadside by saying that Chicago Police officers “did a great job” protecting the city during the summit and, “Everybody’s going to be compensated accurately, fairly and expeditiously….We’re exchanging ideas and proposals [with the union] towards resolving this to everybody’s satisfaction.”

Other City Hall sources said police officers could get their first NATO overtime check as early as June 16 and that the city was working toward a “quick turnaround.”

Last week, the FOP filed its fourth NATO-related class-action grievance — this one stemming from the city’s apparent decision not to compensate officers for working a sixth or seventh consecutive day during a single calendar week.

Notice of it was posted on the FOP website under the facetious headline, “More Thanks for a Job Well Done.”

City Hall sources insisted Wednesday that the sixth and seventh day controversy stems from the union’s claim that officers who normally work a Monday-through-Friday shift and got called in on Sunday be paid time-and-a-half on both Sunday and Friday. The city maintains that Friday should be straight-time.

The union had earlier filed two other NATO-related grievances, both still pending.

One contested the city’s decision to cancel furloughs during a two-week period that coincides with the summit. The other was filed to ensure “correct compensation” for officers who worked a regular tour of duty during the summit, but had their hours adjusted by more than two hours from the designated start time of their normal watch.

The city has not released details of its NATO-related purchasing and personnel costs. But, the tab for police overtime for the 3,100 officers assigned to NATO duty is expected to be huge.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy cancelled days off and ordered all officers to work 12-hour shifts to devote extraordinary police resources to the summit and still provide a 15 percent increase in neighborhood police protection.

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