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Police union accuses city of hiding ruling on NATO overtime

Mike Shields President The Fraternal Order Police talks about appointment Garry McCarthy be new Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. Monday

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

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Updated: July 10, 2013 6:28AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration is being accused of concealing from the police union and an independent arbitrator a ruling against the city that could have impacted the union’s quest for $1 million in disputed overtime for 3,100 Chicago Police officers who protected the city during last year’s NATO Summit.

At issue is one of four class-action grievances filed by the Fraternal Order of Police after a deftly handled summit that could have been a disaster for Chicago, but instead gave the city a chance to shine on the world stage.

The dispute stemmed from Emanuel’s decision not to pay officers time-and-a-half overtime for working a sixth or seventh consecutive day during a calendar week. The matter is now before an arbitrator.

The Chicago Police Lieutenants’ Association contract has language that mirrors the FOP contract on time-and-a-half compensation for working a sixth or seventh consecutive day. In March, an arbitrator ruled against the city in the lieutenants’ quest for NATO overtime.

The FOP found out about the ruling last week — long after it could have made a difference in the pending arbitration — only after the lieutenants’ association voted to disclose the information to the FOP, said FOP President Mike Shields.

Shields is now claiming information on the lieutenants ruling was deliberately concealed from the FOP, its attorney and an arbitrator hearing the FOP’s case.

“That is 100 percent unethical and it makes it hard for the FOP to trust the Emanuel administration. We believe they lied to us through omission,” Shields said.

“They’re trying to play legal trickery to screw Chicago Police officers out of $1 million. Their days off were canceled. Their right to time-and-a-half pay was not honored. Instead, the city took the ridiculous position that the sixth and seventh work day could be your first two days of a new week. The city is acting like a big insurance company. It’s deny, delay and don’t pay.”

Cmdr. Don O’Neill, the director of management and labor affairs for the Chicago Police Department accused of concealing the information, refused to comment on the FOP’s claim. The union is considering filing a complaint against him with the Attorneys Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

Roderick Drew, spokesman for the city’s Law Department, denied the city tried to conceal anything.

“In fact, notice of the award was posted on the [lieutenants] union website. And the issue in that arbitration is actually factually different from the FOP case,” Drew said in an emailed response.

The NATO overtime tiff is certain to exacerbate tensions between the city and the FOP nearly two years after the union’s contract with the city expired.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported in March that Emanuel was using an embarrassing paperwork mistake that Shields made last year to deny rank-and-file police officers of their automatic right to a retroactive pay raise in 2012.

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.

During the NATO Summit, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy canceled days off and ordered all 3,100 officers to work 12-hour shifts to devote extraordinary police resources to the gathering of world leaders and still provide a 15 percent increase in neighborhood police protection.

Emanuel stuck his neck out to get the NATO Summit, squeezed business leaders to fund it and imposed strict rules and fines governing public protests before softening those regulations under pressure from Chicago aldermen.

But all of the post-summit accolades went to McCarthy, whose frontline leadership in helping to diffuse a potentially volatile confrontation with Black Bloc provocateurs turned him into a Chicago folk hero.

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