New contract for Chicago police officers advances to City Council

Bizar Male

A new contract that would raise pay for 11,000 rank-and-file Chicago police officers will head to a City Council vote next week.

The Council’s Workforce Development Committee on Tuesday unanimously voted to advance the eight-year deal, which took four years to negotiate. If approved, the package will cost the city $377 million in retroactive pay dating back to when the last deal expired in 2017.

The deal would increase base pay for officers by 20% over the life of the contract and also allows the city to investigate officers based on anonymous complaints and other disciplinary changes.

City officials still are negotiating with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, which represents the majority of the department’s rank-and-file officers, over further changes to the contract to accommodate reforms mandated by new state laws and a federal consent decree that looms over the department, said James Franczak, a private attorney who represented the city during the negotiations.

Nearly 80% of Lodge 7 members in July voted to approve the contract, leaving Council approval as the only remaining step to close the deal.

The Council vote next Tuesday will come as the city ends a second straight summer of surging violent crime and less than a month after Officer Ella French was murdered and a fellow officer gravely injured during a traffic stop. But Mayor Lori Lightfoot also has faced a drumbeat of calls from activists to reduce CPD’s nearly $2 billion budget in favor of non-law enforcement approaches to crime reduction.

The hourlong discussion of the contract, led by co-chair Ald. Jason Ervin for the absent Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza, focused largely on those non-economic changes to the contract. Most of the questions were devoted to how changes to the contract might impact the rights of officers accused of criminal conduct and to why the changes weren’t more sweeping.

Franczak said further changes were still to be negotiated, and likely would wind up getting decided in arbitration, a process that would have added months to the already yearslong negotiations. The pay increases for police officers, he said, was on par with the most recent deals for the department’s higher-ranking officers and firefighters.

“Nobody professes that this is going to cure all the ills of the police department or for accountability reform,” Franczak said. “But big-picture-wise, if you look at this agreement, there are 36 separate provisions that we have changed that fall under the umbrella of accountability.”

Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35th) noted the price tag for the new contract.

“I’m glad the city was able to make progress on a lot of its accountability issues, but I do want to note that it’s coming at a very steep price, and that this is a very expensive contract,” Rosa said. “This is very costly and this does represent a major increase for those officers, and I assume that’s why they voted to support this contract.”

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