The Chicago City Council convened Tuesday to consider approving a new contract with the Fraternal Order of Police, among other matters. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times
Officers still won’t be required to disclose secondary employment or hours worked at those jobs. Nor is there a cap on moonlighting hours. But city negotiator Jim Franczek said the contract still has “the most accountability reform measures” ever.
Chicago Police officers rose above their anger at Mayor Lori Lightfoot to ratify a new contract that gives them a 20% pay raise over eight years, more than half of it retroactive.
On Tuesday, the City Council is poised to do the same, rising above disappointment that the city didn’t get take greater advantage of its opportunity to demand police reform.
“I don’t think we got all the things we asked for, but we did get a lot,” Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), former chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, said Tuesday.
“If we reject this contract, we have to pretty much start from scratch with arbitrators we’re not familiar with. So we may not get any of these things that we’ve already fought for and won.”
Jim Franczek, the city’s longtime chief labor negotiator, acknowledged the city did not get the requirement it sought compelling officers to disclose secondary employment or hours worked at those second jobs. It also did not cap those moonlighting hours.
But, he argued, the city won “the most accountability reform measures that have ever been had” in an FOP contract.
“Some people might say that’s a pretty low bar. But we made over 30 separate changes. Any reasonable observer would say that’s a fairly significant accomplishment,” he said.
Franczek acknowledged the Illinois General Assembly strengthened the city’s hand by abolishing the requirement that complaints against police officers include a sworn affidavit. But the city’s contract goes further on that front, he said.
“Before a hearing can take place under state law, the complainant has got to be disclosed. Under our collective bargaining agreement, it’s not just the anonymous complaint. It’s also permitting someone to not disclose their identity if they don’t want to,” he said.
Once the Council signs off on the new deal, the city will be on the hook for $377.6 million for four years of back pay. That’s how long police officers have been waiting for a pay raise during what was the longest labor stalemate in Chicago history.
Retroactive paychecks will range from $18,000 to $36,000, depending on seniority and retroactive overtime pay that will add as much as 20% to that amount; and back duty availability pay that means up to $7,600 per officer.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot knew it was coming, but nevertheless set aside just $103.3 million for back paychecks in her 2021 budget. The city plans to cover the rest by refinancing $1 billion in existing debt at reduced interest rates later this year. That’s expected to generate $232 million in savings.
The remaining $42.3 million will come from “corporate fund resources,” according to a three-year financial plan released this week, though it did not offer specifics.
The city still must find an additional $325 million to cover future costs of the contract. Even so, top mayoral aides have touted the contract for the “financial stability” it provides. It also guarantees labor peace until after the 2023 mayoral election.
Civic Federation President Laurence Msall is not so sure about the financial stability claim. Using savings from a debt refinancing “prudently matches one-time revenues to a one-time expense,” but “taking the savings up-front” will force the city to “either cut or find new sources of revenue,” Msall has said.
The contract calls for rank-and-file CPD officers to receive a 10.5% retroactive pay raise and 9.5% more through January 2025. The city has also agreed to increase so-called “duty availability pay” to $950 per quarter and the annual uniform allowance to $1,950.
Duty availability pay will be offered “retroactively” from July 2017 to all officers whose probation period has ended after 18 months. Going forward, that pay will be available after 18 months, instead of 42.
Rank-and-file police officers will be asked to absorb half of the increase in health care contributions imposed on police sergeants and Chicago firefighters and paramedics. The second half of that increase will be postponed until July 1, 2022 to allow members to retire under the current levels: 2.2% at age 55, or 0% for those 60 and over.
Although the contract was four years in the making, the negotiations are not complete. Only “core accountability issues” have been resolved. More controversial disciplinary changes must still be negotiated and are likely to end up in arbitration.
“When there was an impasse, there were editorials saying police should embrace the accountability provisions that were in the sergeants’ contract,” said former mayoral challenger Paul Vallas, who served as the FOP’s lead negotiator. “That’s exactly what they did.”