The Chicago Police Contract

June 1995. An important date for all police officers in the State of Illinois. What happens this June of ‘95 undoubtedly will affect the salaries of all low enforcement officers in Illinois for years to come. The impact of June of 1995 will most certainly be felt by cops in suburban Cook and the collar counties region, comprised of Lake, McHenry, DuPage and Will counties.

June of 1995 is important because the Chicago Police Department’s collective bargaining agreement covering 10,000 officers below the rank of sergeant expires at that time.

The mayoral election cometh. Featuring the wrath of 27,500 retired cops, firefighters and city workers whose concerns have and continue to be articulated by Arthur Cholla, a retired cop and Chairman of the Coalition of Active & Retired Employees Political Action Committee (C.A.R.E.P.A.C.) The Richard M. Daley administration recently put on hold a plan to boost the retiree’s monthly health insurance premiums a whopping 18%. After the city election in April is past, count on Daley to review this pre-election concession unless the unions take steps forward and full their collective bargaining obligations on behalf of the retirees and those about to pull the pin.

Mayor Richard M. Daley – and his designates will be demanding austere pay raises for the last six months of 1995, and into the following years of ‘96, ‘97 and ‘98. The negotiations could even touch upon the year 1999.

2000. Yes, the year 2000 will be here at the termination of a future police collective bargaining pact. The millennium will have arrived.

The pay and fringe benefits negotiated on or about June 1995 for Chicago Police will be of utmost importance to all rank-and-file cops and could establish dangerous precedents for police salaries in northern Illinois the next 20 years if it is not negotiated properly.

Will the pay raises be decent? Will the City of Chicago medical insurance premiums be a disastrous loser as it has been for the presently retired officers and those planning on taking their pension in the next five years?

Will the huge unfunded accrued liability portions of police pension dollars be made up by the Daley regime over the span of the next contract, or will the pension fund continue to go south?

These are major questions to be addressed when police negotiations get going in June of 1995.

Should Chicago’s rank-and-file police who have never (and the word never is heavily stressed), fought a battle for their salary structures, think that Daley’s administration is going to proffer unto them anything of substance without a fight they will have misjudged their opponent across the table.

Arbitration might become an outcry – but it is a fallacious one. Arbitration is just a political ploy to avoid a good old-fashioned labor fight at bargaining time. Arbitration is an easy way out that the politicians throughout the state eagerly support to resolve pay and fringe benefits disputes. Arbitration is a process the pols conveniently set up; one that they control, and do not fear in the least. Arbitration is a method for lackluster union leaders to cop a plea with a membership kept in the dark as to a viable alternative. Arbitration is the cry of a weak rank-and-file that has no stomach for a fight with the city administration. Arbitration simply put, is nothing but a loser for all police officers.

If Chicago Police are to set the tone for all their future contracts then they best prepare to FIGHT in June of ‘95 – to stand up – draw the lines, and be counted.

FIGHT! Yes – that’s the word that has always been shied away from. But that is what will undoubtedly be necessary. Chicago cops have to flex their muscles or the Daley people at the Hall will walk all over them in contract talks. FIGHT is something that Chicago cops can do and will do – if they deem applicable. All that is needed is direction from their union leaders. They need a top guy who says “My membership will fight if they have to – no more arbitration ploys and fiascoes – just like the school teachers.”

Bill Nolan recently replaced John Dineen at the helm of the collective bargaining ship of state. Will Nolan FIGHT – or will he prove to be a political pawn as Dineen always was??? Will Nolan display the fortitude – the intelligence and the moxie to ask 10,000 officers in blue to stand behind him – to rise up whenever necessary to achieve a just and equitable settlement from the Daley minions?

If Bill Nolan fulfills his obligations in a meaningful way in the beginning of 1995, he will say so early and loudly, and declare an all out fight as an integral part of this leadership agenda. Bill Nolan will be preparing Chicago’s rank-and-file for a long overdue FIGHT. A FIGHT that the Daley fold will cause by offering little and taking back benefits. But it will be a fight that can be won by Chicago’s finest.

We will surely know in June of ‘95 if Bill Nolan does not have the where-with-all to be the union leader Chicago Police elected him to be when they sent the erstwhile Dineen packing to the sidelines.

And if he doesn’t, the rank-and-file Chicago Police officers will still have the opportunity to take the bull by the horns before all is lost.

If he does, “Hooray for Bill Nolan.” He will then be putting forth the leadership for cops his mandate provided.

And if he doesn’t Hmmmm…