City offers cops 5 percent raise over three years — union calls it ‘insulting’
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter November 15, 2013 12:24AM
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police officially removed beleaguered President Mike Shields from his post — just months after its Illinois counterpart suspended him. | Sun-Times files
Updated: December 16, 2013 6:39AM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is offering Chicago Police officers a 5 percent pay raise over three years — with no retroactive pay raise — and demanding that active officers double their health-care contributions while new retirees pay 4 percent of annuities for coverage now provided for free.
The mayor also is demanding that rank-and-file police officers join a wellness program they have shunned to control skyrocketing health-care costs.
Even after two years of nowhere bargaining tied to his contentious relationship with Emanuel, Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields was stunned by the mayor’s plan.
“This is an initial offer, but it’s never expected to be so insulting to the men and women of the Chicago Police Department,” Shields said.
The FOP has demanded a 12 percent pay raise over two years to make up for losses suffered in the last contract, when an arbitrator awarded rank-and-file police officers a 10 percent pay increase over five years, their smallest increase in 30 years.
On Thursday, Shields accused the mayor of ignoring that prior “sacrifice” as well as the “unresolved issue” of a retroactive pay hike dating back to June 30, 2012, when the old contract expired.
“Our members provide outstanding service to Chicago and they deserve an appropriate wage schedule and benefits. We expect the city to start bargaining in good faith,” he said.
A mayoral adviser, who asked to remain anonymous, denied the city’s offer was aimed at sticking it to Shields, who torpedoed a four-year contract with police sergeants Emanuel had hoped to use as road map to solve the city’s pension crisis.
“In light of everything that’s going on, it’s not a bad package,” said the mayoral adviser, referring to the city’s $20 billion pension crisis.
“We’re trying to get a deal done, exercise self-restraint and still be respectful of the men and women in the Police Department.”
Shields recently apologized to his membership for a paperwork mistake that threatened to deny rank-and-file police officers their automatic right to a retroactive pay raise in 2012.
The oversight happened last year, when 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.
Now, police officers are paying the price.
The mayor is offering a 5 percent pay raise over three years beginning on July 1, 2013. That means no retroactive pay hike.
Health-care contributions for active members would double — from 2.4 percent to 4.9 percent of paychecks for families and from 1.98 percent to 3.97 percent for married couples.
New retirees would be forced to pay 4 percent of annuities for health-care coverage that’s now provided to retirees at no cost.
The mayor also wants to compel police officers to join a cost-cutting wellness plan that already includes most other city employees.
The $1,800-a-year uniform allowance would not be reduced, but officers would receive those payments in six installments, instead of the three.
The city’s economic offer also includes eight other “operational economic proposals,” that impact overtime, scheduling and pay for officers working a sixth and seventh straight day.
Earlier this year, an independent arbitrator awarded 1,100 police sergeants an 8 percent pay raise over four years, but required those who retire after Dec. 31 to make a 2 percent contribution to retiree health care that’s now free.
The mayor’s offer to rank-and-file police officers makes the sergeant’s deal look generous — and it pales by comparison to the union’s demands.
In addition to a 12 percent pay raise over two years, the FOP has proposed a drop in health insurance contributions and a $3,000-a-year residency stipend to compensate them for being forced to live and send their kids to school in the city.
The union also wanted to cut in half — from 20 percent to 10 percent — the share of promotions based on merit and remove the “merit” label.
To prevent the steady stream of retirements from further depleting the ranks, the union wanted Supt. Garry McCarthy to establish “minimum staffing levels” and forward them to the union on a quarterly basis.
Costly income supplements negotiated over the years in lieu of a bigger pay raise would increase under the union’s plan — to $3,620 a year in 2014 for duty availability pay and $2,100 for the annual uniform allowance.
Police officers who stay off the medical rolls would get: a $1,500 bonus for two years without sick time not related to on-duty injuries; $4,000 for five straight years and $5,000 for 10 years without taking medical leave.
Starting pay for Chicago Police officers currently stands at $43,104 a year, $61,530 after the first 12 months and $86,130 after 25 years of continuous service.
The FOP has demanded that officers to reach their maximum salary rate after 20 years, instead of waiting 25 years to achieve the top pay bracket.
Under the union’s plan, officers would also be allowed to “sell back” up to 200 hours of compensatory time in each calendar year as well as all unused vacation days at the end of the 13th police pay period.