Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police union — which is the largest union representing Chicago Police Department officers — has been working without a contract with the city since 2017. Talks with the city had previously stalled when the union’s prior president demanded an 18% raise — with back pay — over three years.
The union elected a new president, John Catanzara, earlier this year, which led some to hope that the contract impasse might end.
That hope may prove to be short lived.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightftoot’s office sent the FOP a proposed contract on Tuesday that provided for a 10% raise over a four-year period, but which also included a lengthy list of police reforms that would increase civilian oversight of the police department and provide for anonymous complaints between officers, the Sun-Times reported.
Currently, complaints against officers must be accompanied by a sworn affidavit, which reform advocates say makes police less likely to act as whistleblowers against their comrades.
Catanzara’s response, according to the Sun-Times, was to storm out of the negotiating session and promise a “financial only” counteroffer — and to threaten that any city council member who voted against it would find themselves facing an election against candidates who are bankrolled by the police union.
“We will be taking names. We will be slating candidates. … We will have a $1 million-a-year PAC going forward starting next year. And in 2023, there’s going to be a day of reckoning for these aldermen who think they can skate by under the radar and say they support the police, but do nothing. We’re gonna see who shows up and who wants to do the right thing by the men and women of this police department who have absolutely been champions this whole summer and used like rented mules at the drop of a hat with no consideration whatsoever. Well, it’s time to pay the piper,” Catanzara said.
Catanzara declined to elaborate to the Chicago Tribune on which of the specifics in the mayor’s reform plan he found objectionable, but he did say that he felt that it would weaken police officer’s rights when faced with disciplinary actions. He also expressed outrage that the city negotiated contracts with the city’s teacher’s union and firefighters before completing contract negotiations with the police.
“We are not taking the short end of the stick…We’re last in line when the teachers should have been last in line,” Catanzara said.
Referring to the city’s firefighters, Catanzara said, “Firemen get to go back to their firehouse and wait for the next call, no matter how long they’re working. Police don’t have that luxury. They’re out there standing on foot posts for 12 or 14 hours. No bathrooms in sight. Women have to go find a dumpster to squat behind to go the bathroom. Getting s*** thrown at us. Fireworks shot at us. Spit on. …. Our profession is a harder profession — especially in this day and time. And we need to be treated and compensated accordingly.”
Catanzara was also not impressed with Lightfoot’s claim that the city is facing a $1.2 billion budget shortfall in 2021.
“I basically told them our members are not gonna take it over the barrel because you guys delayed us intentionally for three years now. And now, because, `Woe is me. We’re poor,’ now, we have to take it on the chin. That’s not gonna happen,” Catanzara told the Sun-Times.