CITY HALL — Progressive aldermen backed union police officers Monday in their pursuit of retroactive pay increases in any new contract with the city.
The eight members of the Progressive Reform Caucus threw their support behind a resolution insisting that retroactive pay raises going back to mid-2012 be part of any new collective-bargaining agreement.
Normally, pay raises would automatically be retroactive in a new deal. But a paperwork lapse by the Fraternal Order of Police meant that the contract that was to expire June 30, 2012, rolled over another year. It wasn't until this year that FOP notified the city as required that it wanted to renegotiate the expiring contract, meaning that as of now any pay raises would only go back this July, not July 2012.
"I am happy to join the members of the progressive caucus and other members of the City Council in support of the FOP, to ensure that the men and women of the Chicago Police force get a fair and equitable agreement," said Ald. Nick Sposato (36th).
"The city took the opportunity of this contract question to abrogate its responsibility to pay our officers the overtime they are owed — and it could cost the average police officer anywhere from $1,400 for a back pay raise of 2 percent, to $2,100 if it’s 3 percent," said Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd). "Our officers deserve better than that."
"The police officers have honored their side of the commitment — they've worked long hours under difficult conditions," said Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th). "The bureaucratic paperwork issue took place through no fault of the ranks of police, who have served honorably and worked hard, all with the understanding that overtime pay would be provided."
FOP spokesman Pat Camden said he "absolutely" welcomed the aldermanic support.
"Chicago's police officers have been out there serving and protecting on a daily basis, and they don't do it for the money," Camden said. "They do it because that's their chosen profession.
"The working men and women of the Police Department deserve a retroactive raise when the contract is finally completed," Camden added.
"The police racked up extensive overtime in part because they were working so hard to quell the spike in violence in the early part of this year. They’ve done their part. Now it’s time for us to do the same and keep our promises," said Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd). "Rectifying this policy is long overdue. The police should be compensated as agreed for the hours they’ve put in. It’s the right thing to do."
"We're doing more with less and, yes, we deserve to get paid for it," Camden added.
Camden said it was impossible to estimate the total cost of the contested pay raises.
"We are committed to reaching a fair deal for police officers, and we’re working to achieve this goal," said Shannon Breymaier, of the Mayor's Press Office, "but we won’t be negotiating the deal in public."
Eight members of the progressive caucus signed on to the resolution, originally sponsored by Ald. Mary O'Connor (41st) and initially co-sponsored by 12 others, including Sposato.
"Hopefully, we'll get some more," Camden said.