Mayor Hails Pact With Sergeants as 'Blueprint' for Pension Reforms
CITY HALL — The city and its police sergeants arrived at a new four-year labor pact that exchanges union concessions for pension security.
"Labor and the city have found new ways to work together," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday in announcing the deal with James Ade, president of the Chicago Police Sergeants' Association.
Emanuel said it created "a framework and a blueprint for all to take note" of, especially given ongoing negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police and the Chicago Firefighters Union.
"I think it's very good deal," Ade said. He fully expected it to influence contract talks between the city and police union President Michael Shields and added that his son is an FOP member. "I told Mike we were close to getting a great deal about a week ago," he said.
Yet the police union rejected that.
"The sergeants' union is a partner in a scam," said FOP spokesman Pat Camden. "How in God's name can they negotiate our retirement benefits?"
Camden said the questionable deal struck by 1,180 members of the sergeants' union would have no effect on contract talks concerning the 17,000 FOP members and its 22,000 retirees.
"We've not very happy about it," he added. "We're going to fight it to the end."
The sergeants' pact sets a 9 percent pay increase over four years, but also raises the retirement age three years to 53 and calls for retirees to contribute 2 percent of their retirement annuity to their own health care. It also freezes cost-of-living increases in even years from 2014 through 2018 and the same for future retirees until the pension fund is 60 percent funded, then every third year until it's 80 percent funded.
That pension reform was key to both sides. Emanuel said the deal broke a "logjam" and put the city and its unions on "a path to smart reforms for secure retirement and sustainable finances for the city and, most important, for its taxpayers.
"If we don't make changes, Jim's members are going to continue to pay into a system that can't pay retirements they need," Emanuel added. "I think that's dishonest. And then it leaves taxpayers to pay something that they can't afford. That, too, is dishonest."
"We felt it was better to work together to fix the problem than to sit back and let someone else fix it," Ade said. He said the ratification vote would be "a tough one" for his membership, but he believes it will pass.
"There is security for these sergeants, there is certainty for taxpayers and there's a future we're building together for the city," Emanuel said.