The newly-elected president of the Fraternal Order of Police said Thursday he wants to chart a new course with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and urged the mayor to put a retroactive pay hike back on the table as a show of good faith.
Dean Angelo Sr., a third-generation police detective on disability, said he has fences to mend and bridges to build after the tumultuous tenure of Mike Shields, who was removed from office after making the explosive charge that the last two police contracts dictated by an independent arbitrator were “fixed” in the city’s favor and that the recent sergeants contract arbitration may also have been rigged.
One of the bridges he hopes to build leads to the mayor’s office. Shields was a constant thorn in Emanuel’s side.
“Our members have had enough. It’s time to bring this organization together and move forward. I’m attempting to do that like it’s never been seen before. I also plan to deal with administration of the department and the city on a professional level. I’m a little bit more senior than my predecessor and I have a little different approach,” said Angelo, 59.
“What our men and women have had to endure was unnecessary. I don’t think they deserved it. It’s time for a change. Ever since I wound up in the run-off, most of what I’ve heard is, `You have no idea what’s waiting for you — the turmoil that’s been caused. The bridges that have been burned.’ That’s something I have to address [and build bridges] to different labor organizations, the management and also to City Hall. That’s where we get our checks from. That’s our employer. I’m hoping the mayor is going to be receptive to that.”
Last year, ousted FOP President Mike Shields apologized to his members for paperwork mistakes that denied rank-and-file Chicago Police officers their automatic right to a retroactive pay raise.
Shields’ oversight was in failing to notify the city between Feb. 1 and March 1 of 2012 that he intended to terminate the police contract and commence negotiations on a new agreement. If that notice is not given within the one-month window, the contract automatically rolls over for another year.
The mistake gave Emanuel an opening to declare that, if the FOP wants a pay raise retroactive to June 30, 2012, they’ll have to give up something to get it. It will no longer be automatic.
The move was widely viewed as the mayor’s attempt to get even with Shields for working to torpedo a four-year contract with police sergeants — tied to pension and retiree health-care reform — that Emanuel had hoped to use as a road map to solve the city’s pension crisis.
The mistake threatens to cost the average police officer anywhere from $1,400 if the retroactive pay raise was two percent to $2,100 if it’s three percent.
On Thursday, Angelo urged the mayor to wipe the slate clean and put the retroactive pay raise back on the table to open a new dialogue with police officers, whose support the mayor desperately needs to solve the city’s pension crisis.
“That would be great sign of good faith — a wonderful place to start off. My members would love for me to come back to them and say the mayor is gonna consider the retro [pay] again. That would be a huge investment. I’ve heard that [a pay raise for] 2012 is dead. We’d love to resurrect it,” Angelo said.
The mayor’s office had no immediate comment.
“I’ve been to every roll call in every district — from Mount Greenwood to Rogers Park. I’ve seen the same tired faces and the same story line. We are tired of not getting respect and recognition. We’ve become the bad guys. We’re not the bad guys. We put the bad guys away. We should be recognized for what we do. Police officers do not feel they’re appreciated. Retro [pay] would be a nice start. So would a contract.”
Next year, Chicago is required by state law to make a $600 million contribution to stabilize police and fire pension funds that now have assets to cover just 30.5 percent and 25 percent of their respective liabilties.
The mayor wants the General Assembly to put off the balloon payment until 2023 to lift the sword hanging over Chicago taxpayers and give him time to negotiate a similar deal with police and fire unions.
On Thursday, Angelo refused to comment on Emanuel’s share-the-pain plan to raise property taxes by $250 million — and increase employee contributions by 29 percent — to shore up the Laborers and Municipal Employees pension funds.
Nor would he say whether he would be willing to let the city ramp up to the $600 million payment, instead of making it in one fell swoop.
He would only say, “Everything is open for discussion. I won’t enter into a conversation with the mayor and not offer any room for conversation. But I can’t just turn around to my members and say we’re gonna forgive $600 million, either. I wouldn’t be able to commit to either part of that option without knowing what offers will be or what opportunities are out there. I have to sit down and talk to the man. He is the mayor of the city.”