Police union calls for 12% pay hike, $3,000 stipend to live in city
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org February 7, 2013 5:18AM
Chicago Police officers are demanding a 12 percent pay raise over two years, a reduction in health care contributions and a $3,000-a-year residency stipend. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 8, 2013 7:40AM
Chicago Police officers are demanding a 12 percent pay raise over two years, a reduction in health-care contributions and a $3,000-a-year residency stipend to compensate them for being forced to live and send their kids to school in the city.
The Fraternal Order of Police also wants to cut in half — from 20 percent to 10 percent — the share of promotions based on merit and change the name from “merit” — which, they claim, makes a political process sound apolitical — to “management” or “administrative” promotions.
To prevent the steady stream of retirements from further depleting the ranks, the union wants Supt. Garry McCarthy to establish “minimum staffing levels” and forward them to the union on a quarterly basis.
The Police Department equivalent of clunkers — squad cars and other vehicles with more than 90,000 miles on the odometer — would be mandatorily retired from patrol, under the union’s proposal. The FOP proposal also states that the city “must provide adequate heating, hot water, air-conditioning and sanitary facilities.”
Costly income supplements that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been urged to eliminate would increase under the union’s plan — to $3,620 a year in 2014 for duty availability pay and $2,100 for the annual uniform allowance.
In 2005, an arbitrator gave police a 15.5 percent pay raise over four years in exchange for a 33 percent increase in officers’ contributions to health insurance.
The FOP now wants to reduce those contributions — from 1.29 percent to 1 percent of an officer’s paycheck for single coverage and from 2.47 percent to 2 percent for families. But the union is offering an incentive plan to help the city reduce its sick pay costs.
Police officers who stay off the medical rolls would get a $1,500 bonus for two years without sick time not related to on-duty injuries, $4,000 for five straight years and $5,000 for 10 years without taking medical leave.
Union sources described the 12 percent pay raise demand as a way to make up for losses suffered by rank-and-file police officers in the last contract.
It happened after then-Mayor Richard M. Daley initially offered a 16.1 percent pay raise, then yanked it off the table after the economy tanked. That paved the way for an arbitrator to award rank-and-file police officers a 10 percent pay increase over five years.
In addition, the union wants officers to reach their maximum salary rate after 20 years, instead of waiting 25 years to achieve the top pay bracket.
Starting pay for Chicago Police officers currently stands at $43,104 a year, $61,530 after the first 12 months and $86,130 after 25 years of continuous service.
Under the union’s plan, officers would also be allowed to “sell back” up to 200 hours of compensatory time in each calendar year as well as all unused vacation days at the end of the 13th police pay period.
Although the police contract expired on June 30, Emanuel has not made a financial offer.
A side-by-side comparison distributed to FOP unit reps and obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times includes several proposals that could be controversial with rank-and-file officers.
A generous sick leave policy that allows officers to take up to 365 days off every two years would be changed to include full pay and benefits for 12 months over a four-year period.
City Hall wants the right to order hair tests as well as urine tests. Supplementary employment would have to be cleared with the city in writing, capped at 20 hours a week and cut off within four hours of the start of an officer’s tour of duty.
The city would be free to use disciplinary information in “not sustained” files alleging criminal conduct, excessive force or verbal abuse in future disciplinary proceedings against an officer for a period of seven years after the alleged incident.
Effective July 1, sustained files “shall be maintained for the duration of an officer’s career and may be used against the officer for any appropriate purpose,” the city’s proposal states.
Four years ago, Daley’s decision to rescind his 16.1 percent police pay raise offer prompted the FOP to stage a raucous protest — with thousands of officers marching around City Hall chanting “Daley sucks.”
It was timed to embarrass the mayor during the final Chicago visit by the site-selection committee for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Rio de Janeiro won the Olympic sweepstakes after Chicago’s embarrassing first-round flameout.
Chicago taxpayers subsequently dodged a fiscal bullet when an arbitrator awarded rank-and-file police officers a 10 percent pay increase over five years, their smallest increase in 30 years and a far cry from the FOP’s initial demand for a 24 percent raise.
The city also won several key provisions aimed at improving police performance, including random alcohol testing for on-duty officers; mandatory drug and alcohol testing when officers discharge their weapons, and the addition of Ecstasy and anabolic steroids to drug testing.
More recently, the FOP has been engaged in a heated war of words with Emanuel about the union’s demand for more police hiring to ease a severe manpower shortage.
Last week, Emanuel and McCarthy announced plans to shift 200 more officers from desk jobs to street duty. FOP President Mike Shields denounced the move as a political shell game.