A Northwest Side alderman whose ward is home to scores of Chicago Police officers urged Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday not to use a paperwork mistake made by the police union president to deny rank-and-file police officers their automatic right to a retroactive pay raise in 2012.
Ald. Mary O’Connor (41st) said she introduced the resolution at a City Council meeting in response to concerns voiced by police officers who have called her office and stopped her on the street.
“People feel there’s a rift between the mayor and the FOP president and they’re caught in the crossfire,” O’Connor said Wednesday.
“The perception out there is that they are going to lose income because of a deadline that was missed. That should not be the case. It’s a clerical error made by their representative, but it impacts 10,000 police officers. It has an impact on their livelihood and their families. That would not be fair to the police.”
O’Connor said she talked to Emanuel about stalled negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police and, “The mayor has not implied to me that he wasn’t going to bargain in good faith.” But, that hasn’t stopped police officers in her ward from feeling “a little lost” and a lot concerned.
“The city is strapped. Concessions have to be made both ways. I’m just asking that it be fair. Be respectful of work the officers have done. It’s unfortunate President [Mike] Shields did not abide by the deadline. But, I don’t want that mistake to impact their ability to get their retroactive paycheck.”
Shields, who recently apologized to his membership for his mistake, was uncharacteristically tight-lipped about the resolution.
He would only say, “Chicago Police officers, whom the FOP negotiates for, are very grateful to those aldermen who signed on to this resolution.”
Last year, Shields failed to notify the city between Feb. 1 and March 1 that he intended to terminate the police contract and commence negotiations on a new agreement. If that notice is not given within the one-month window, the contract automatically rolls over for another year.
When the same one-month window rolled around this year, Shields acknowledged his earlier mistake by sending the city the required notice to avoid having the old contract roll over for a second straight year.
That gave Emanuel an opening to declare that, if the FOP wants a pay raise retroactive to June 30, 2012, they’ll have to give up something to get it. It will no longer be automatic.
The move was widely viewed as the mayor’s attempt to get even with Shields for working to torpedo a four-year contract with police sergeants — tied to pension and retiree health-care reform — that Emanuel had hoped to use a road map to solve the city’s pension crisis.
Last month, Shields suffered a major blow in his effort to recoup from the paperwork mistake that threatens to cost the average police officer anywhere from $1,400 for a back pay raise of two percent to $2,100 if it’s three percent.
The executive director of the Il. Labor Relations Board dismissed Shields’ unfair labor practices complaint against the city.
Unfair labor practices complaints must be filed within six months of the alleged unlawful conduct. Like the contract termination letter, the complaint was filed too late. Shields has appealed the ruling.
Shields angrily accused Emanuel of unfairly punishing rank-and-file police officers in an effort to silence their feisty union president.
“It’s personal against me because I’m one of two people in the city of Chicago who has spoken out against Mayor Emanuel and his administration,” Shields said then, identifying Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis as the other mayoral critic.
Shields said the same oversight was made by CTA ironworkers, but Emanuel “did not stick it to them.”
He added, “This is a very vicious and vindictive move by the mayor and it comes at a time when police officers are being faced with greater challenges on the streets of Chicago and they think the mayor is gonna screw them.”