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Police Contract Approved, Giving Cops A 20% Raise Over 8 Years

Aldermen voted 40-8 to approve the $600 million contract. Reform groups said the agreement “fails to make many of the changes we know we need.” 

A Chicago Police officer stands outside Chicago Police Department Headquarters on Aug. 13, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

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CHICAGO — The City Council voted on Tuesday to approve a collective bargaining agreement with the Chicago Police Department’s rank-and-file employees, ending the union’s four-year absence of a contract. 

Aldermen in a 40-8 vote approved the eight-year, $600 million contract (O2021-3449) with the Fraternal Order of Police, which codifies policy changes including a ban on the destruction of disciplinary records and a prohibition on officers changing testimony after reviewing an incident video. 

The agreement gives members a 20 percent raise over its eight-year life and stretches retroactively to the last contract’s expiration in July 2017. 

Back pay from the agreement is set to run $378 million, though city budget officials have stored away $103 million in the city’s 2021 budget for the retroactive pay. Budget officials have also said they plan to come up with the remainder of the money through a debt refinancing maneuver. 

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The City Council’s approval of the contract came one day after the ACLU of Illinois, the Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights issued a statement saying the agreement “fails to make many of the changes we know we need.” 

Lightfoot said after the meeting on Tuesday that work remains on the contract, saying “nobody thought this was the end…It’s an important milestone.” 

Topics still left to negotiate include officers’ health care contributions and whether they will be required to disclose any side-gigs outside their police work.  

The mayor also acknowledged some items could face arbitration. 

“Arbitration can be a little bit of a crapshoot,” Lightfoot said, adding “we have to keep pushing for the things that we know are right.” 

Still, the mayor said, “we fought hard to get this contract done, but that’s water under the bridge now,” Lightfoot said during a news conference Tuesday. The city will “be moving forward” with negotiations with the police union on additional reforms. 

Lightfoot added that it is important that the “hard-working men and women of the Chicago Police Department are going to get the back-pay that they have earned and are entitled to.” 

But the agreement faced tougher scrutiny in the full City Council on Tuesday with “no” votes coming from Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st), Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd), Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd), Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th), Ald. Matt Martin (47th) and Ald. Maria Hadden (49th).  

Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) prefaced her “no” vote on the agreement by saying she didn’t oppose the contract’s pay increases, but she think city leaders “need to hold out and finish the agreement.”  

“I think we need to get all of the protections that we’re looking for, all of the reforms we’re looking for,” she added. 

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Ald. Maria E. Hadden (49th) speaks at a City Council meeting on Sept. 14, 2021.

Before also voting “no” on the agreement, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) said he was concerned that “once we give the FOP that big pay raise…the incentive is just not going to be there” to work out the remaining items. 

But Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), who chairs the Aldermanic Black Caucus, appealed to his colleagues by asking them to consider what brings the “most benefit for citizens” when weighing a vote on the agreement.  

“Not every cop in the city of Chicago is a bad cop,” Ervin said. “There’s going to be bad actors everywhere.” 

Read The Daily Line’s full coverage of Tuesday’s City Council meeting here.

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