CHICAGO, IL – Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday announced a tentative contract deal with the Fraternal Order of Police, a development that could ease tensions with the city’s largest union going into next year’s election.
Administration and union officials would not release details of the proposed five-year pact, which must still be approved by the union membership and the City Council. But a source familiar with the deal said it includes wage increases totaling 11 percent over the course of a contract that will expire in 2017 and includes retroactive pay dating back to the expiration of the previous contract in mid-2012.
Police officers had feared they would not get back pay, after now-ousted FOP President Michael Shields failed to notify the city by the required deadline that the union intended to open negotiations on a new contract. Emanuel had that as leverage, while the union knew it was bad for the mayor to go into the February election with about 12,000 cops who belong to the FOP mad at him.
Denying back pay and not having the contract resolved could have had political “repercussions” for the mayor, said veteran Ald. Daniel Solis 25th, an Emanuel ally.
“All union members have family members, they have friends, they have neighbors,” Solis said. “And they’ll talk to them, and this is a strong political town — union town. . . . I also think he did the right thing, because I think the police are very important to our city, and they’re being satisfied with a good contract I think helps with the morale and the kind of work that they do in our city.”
The new pact, set for review by top union officials late Thursday before going to rank-and-file members, does not require police officers to take part in a city wellness program that other unions have agreed to, the source said.
It also does not address the city’s underfunded police pension system, the source said. Without changes to the police and firefighter pension systems, the city could end up being forced to pay $550 million in additional pension payments in 2016.
In his statement announcing a deal had been reached, Emanuel called the proposed pact “a fair and responsible agreement—respectful of the hard work performed by the men and women of the Chicago Police Department to keep our residents safe, and respectful of Chicago’s hard-working taxpayers.”
Neither Emanuel nor FOP President Dean Angelo made themselves available for comment.
“We are eager to share the details with our membership for their consideration,” Angelo said in a statement. “Our women and men have been working without a contract since June 30, 2012, and have certainly earned the right to vote on an Agreement which reflects and honors the hard work and respect they all deserve.”
The tentative FOP deal appears to follow the parameters set under a contract with Chicago Firefighters Local 2 that the council approved in late July. That deal also included 11 percent in raises over five years, including back pay.
The firefighters’ agreement was something of a surprise — historically the city has first come to terms with the much larger FOP, then modeled the firefighters’ contract off that.
The police contract talks stalled under Shields, who was ousted by his membership and replaced by Angelo. Shields and Emanuel had developed an antagonistic relationship, after Shields led the charge in scuttling a pact with the police sergeant’s union that Emanuel hoped would be a blueprint for resolving the city’s pension woes. Angelo and Emanuel, by all accounts, have a better working relationship.
After approval of the firefighters’ contract, the city had to come up with about $28 million in retroactive pay for 4,645 firefighters, emergency medical technicians and emergency medical personnel back to July 2012. The Emanuel administration said that money was set aside and they would not need to borrow.
That hasn’t always been the case. The contracts that ran until 2012 and were approved during former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration required the city to come up with about $240 million to cover back pay increases dating to July 2007. Those costs were covered with borrowed money.
The cost for back pay for the FOP will be far higher than for the firefighters union. During consideration of the 2014 budget, city financial officials said money had been set aside for both police and firefighter back pay, but they declined to specify how much for fear of affecting the then-ongoing negotiations.
From The Chicago Tribune