Police Officers to Get Back Pay, Face New Accountability Rules Under Proposed 8-Year Deal: Lightfoot

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

Ending the longest union negotiations in Chicago history, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Monday that negotiators had reached an eight-year deal that offers more than 11,000 Chicago police officers annual average raises of approximately 2.5% — while imposing new rules on officers suspected of misconduct.

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Retroactive to 2017 and ending in 2025, the proposed deal must be ratified by police officers and the Chicago City Council before it takes effect. It would mean an officer’s salary will rise by approximately 19% during the life of the agreement. 

Lightfoot said the deal includes “historic accountability reforms” as well as more support for officer wellness.

“This proposed contract acknowledges the valuable contributions that Chicago police officers make to neighborhoods all across the city,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “It includes crucial new accountability and transparency reforms needed to create trust between police and communities and provides economically responsible yet fair compensation for officers.”

If ratified, the labor deal with police officers would extend until two years after the next mayoral and aldermanic elections, set for 2023.

Lightfoot had vowed not to sign a new labor agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 that does not give the city more tools to hold police officers responsible for misconduct. 

Chicago police officers — who are prohibited from striking — have been working under the terms of the expired agreement, originally inked in 2012.

At an unrelated event Monday afternoon, Lightfoot said a new deal should have been reached long ago with officers, but union negotiators didn’t get serious until a few weeks ago.

“I'm happy it is done,” Lightfoot said. “It shouldn't have taken this long.”

Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara did not immediately respond to a request for comment from WTTW News on Monday afternoon. The FOP in a social media post Monday said it will begin sending contract ratification ballots to its 11,000-plus voting members. 

“Your vote matters, so we ask every member to fill out the ballot and promptly return it,” the union said in a tweet.

Lightfoot told reporters she was not certain how much the four years of retroactive pay and four years of future pay raises will cost the city, but that officials have prepared for those costs by “tucking money away.”

Lightfoot modeled the proposal deal for rank-and-file officers on the contract approved in 2020 with the union that represents police brass, including sergeants, lieutenants and captains. That deal represented a “historic win” for police reform efforts, Lightfoot said at the time.

A website from the mayor’s office designed to ratchet up pressure on the Fraternal Order of Police to reach a new deal, which is no longer available, told officers they would get approximately $27,500 in retroactive pay if the deal matched the one ratified by police brass.

The tentative agreement for rank-and-file officers gives them the same economic package as the deal approved by police supervisors and members of the firefighters union, according to the mayor’s office, but includes an additional 0.5% average annual pay raise.

The proposed deal would allow members of the public to submit a complaint anonymously, something the 2012 collective bargaining agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police prohibits, ending a 40-year ban.

The tentative agreement would prohibit the names of complainants from being disclosed to officers until immediately prior to their interview, which typically comes at the end of an investigation.

The Department of Justice criticized the ban on investigating anonymous complaints in a 2017 investigation of the CPD, saying it meant many allegations were never made for fear of retaliation. 

A new state law bans police unions’ collective bargaining agreements to require complainants to sign an affidavit when filing a complaint against a police officer.

In addition, the proposed deal would no longer allow officers who use force against a member of the public to revise their statement to investigators after reviewing audio and video recordings of the incident.

Critics of the Chicago Police Department contend both of those provisions have been used by officers to uphold a code of silence that prevents officers guilty of misconduct from being disciplined.

Representatives of the mayor’s office did not respond to questions about whether a provision in the 2012 deal that allows officers to wait 24 hours before speaking with investigators is included in the proposed agreement. That measure has also been targeted by reform advocates.

It is also unclear whether officers will be required to disclose whether they work a second job and how many hours they worked. 

The city’s contract with the police brass allows department officials to impose a 16-hour cap on working any job within a 24-hour period unless ordered by the department.

The tentative agreement also includes unspecified additional funding of health fairs for police union members in an effort to improve “the health and wellness of our officers,” as well as the creation of a dedicated mental health ombudsman, who will be a member of the union “focused on the mental health of officers,” officials said.

Three officers have died by suicide this year, according to department officials.

Despite the tentative agreement, which the mayor called an “interim package,” officials will “continue to negotiate over additional accountability and operational proposals, and if agreement cannot be reached may proceed to interest arbitration to resolve such outstanding items,” according to a statement from Lightfoot’s office.

WTTW News reporter Matt Masterson contributed to this report.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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