Read the fine print E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

According to an article in the Chicago Sun Times, police officers in the Windy City might have to wait until next year to negotiate a new contract with the city. Chicago’s finest could miss out on a retroactive pay increase in 2012 due to an error by the new leadership of the Fraternal Order of Police.

According to the Sun Times, police and fire contracts are due to expire on June 30.

However, the fine print requires unions to notify the city between Feb. 1 and March 1 that they intend to terminate their contracts so negotiations on a new deal can start.

If the union fails to notify the city that they intend to terminate the existing agreement the contract automatically rolls over for another year.

City firefighters and unions representing police sergeants, lieutenants and captains did contact the city before the deadline. But according to City Hall, FOP President Mike Shields missed the March 1 deadline.

That was a gift for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Now the mayor can either delay negotiations until June 30, 2013, or negotiate “only those items that would cut taxpayer costs,” according to the article.

It’s unclear if the Emanuel administration will take advantage of their position.

Some city hall insiders say no decision has been as to whether city officials will “stick it in the ear” of rank-and-file police officers.

“But we’re reserving the right to be selective in what we talk about because they blew it,” the unnamed source said.

Emanuel is known as a tough negotiator. He’s expected to go after Chicago’s sick-leave policy that allows officers to take up to 365 days off every two years.

Other targets include the $1,800-a-year uniform allowance and yearly duty-availability pay in the amount of $2,800 that compensates officers for being on call 24/7.

In an email to the Chicago Sun-Times, Shields said his letter to the city was “well within the timeline” required by state law.

“There is no issue . . . regarding the FOP’s intent to modify the terms and conditions of the labor agreement that expires June 30,” he wrote. “While others may believe that negotiations should be about technicalities and posturing, the FOP believes the upcoming negotiations . . . should be about protecting the citizens of Chicago while respecting the incredible work performed by members of the FOP.

The difficult issues out there like manpower need to be resolved by both sides sitting down to make the city safer.”

Seasoned observers of city politics say that if the city does blow off the FOP for a year it’s likely to increase tensions among rank-and-file officers bracing for an international onslaught of protesters during the May 20-21 NATO summit.

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