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Chicago Police union loses key battle in retroactive pay fight

Former Fraternal Order Police President Mike Shields (pictured 2011)  |  Sun-Times files

Former Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields (pictured in 2011) | Sun-Times files

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Updated: September 29, 2013 6:49AM

Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields has suffered a major blow in his effort to recoup from an embarrassing paperwork mistake that threatens to deny rank-and-file Chicago Police officers a retroactive pay raise.

The executive director of the Illinois Labor Relations Board has dismissed the unfair labor practices complaint Shields filed against the city after Shield’s oversight gave Mayor Rahm 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.

Unfair labor practices complaints must be filed within six months of the alleged unlawful conduct.

The clock started to run on March 27, 2012, when the city wrote a letter to the FOP that “clearly stated” its contention that Shields did not give timely notice of his intent to terminate or modify the contract.

Since the FOP did not file its unfair labor practices complaint until April 1, 2013, the statue of limitations has clearly run out, the Aug. 22 ruling states.

Coincidentally, the original dispute also revolved around a missed deadline.

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.

But because of Shield’s initial gaffe, unionized officers will not automatically get a retroactive pay raise for the first year after the contract expired, from June 30, 2012, to June 30, 2013.

Emanuel promptly seized on the union’s about-face to get even with Shields for working to torpedo a four-year contract with police sergeants that Emanuel had hoped to use a road map to solve the city’s pension crisis.

Jim Franczek, the city’s chief labor negotiator, refused to comment on 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, 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.”

Joe Burns, the FOP’s outside labor counsel, maintained that the city “waived its position” that the police contract rolled over for another year by holding 35 bargaining sessions with the FOP and reaching agreement on a dozen issues, including new arbitration and mediation procedures implemented in March.

“They should have said, ‘The contract was renewed. We’ll talk with you next year,’” Burns said.

“If you want an effective police department and good morale, you have to treat your police officers with respect. You don’t show respect when you play a game of gotcha. Police officers are human beings. They’re aware the city is trying to hold a raise hostage for strategic reasons. It’s not fair to penalize 9,500 police officers because of a notice that came three weeks late.”

Shields has been a constant thorn in Emanuel’s side.

He has waged a non-stop campaign to bolster police hiring. He has demanded a 12 percent pay raise over two years, a reduction in health care contributions and a $3,000-a-year residency stipend to compensate rank-and-file police officers for being forced to live and send their kids to school in the city.

Shields was also a driving force behind the sergeants’ resounding rejection of Emanuel’s blueprint for pension reform. Earlier this week, he criticized the mayor’s decision to assign 120 police recruits who graduated Tuesday to Safe Passage routes, bypassing the traditional field training regimen.


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