Chicago police union prez says deal reached in contract talks, but that’s news to Lightfoot

“We absolutely came to a fair agreement here,” union president John Catanzara said in a YouTube video. But a mayor’s office spokesman said Lightfoot “has not yet been presented with nor agreed to any deal.”

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New officers at a graduation ceremony at Navy Pier in 2017.

New officers at a graduation ceremony at Navy Pier in 2017.

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The local president of the Fraternal Order of Police said in a video posted to YouTube Friday that his union has a tentative deal with the Chicago Police Department — but Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office says she doesn’t know anything about it.

“I’m happy to announce that yesterday the FOP and the city’s negotiating team did come to an understanding on a financial package,” John Catanzara, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, said in the video.

“There was a lot of hard work here, I know a lot of people thought this was impossible, but all I can tell you we absolutely came to a fair agreement here,” Catanzara added in the video. “This is not giving away the house in any way, shape or form.”

That video, though, may be premature; the mayor’s office denies knowing of any agreement.

“The mayor has not yet been presented with nor agreed to any deal,” said Alexander Murphy, a spokesman for the mayor’s office. “As she has said all along, any agreement with the FOP must include accountability and reform measures called for by the consent decree.”

Reached by the Sun-Times Friday evening, Catanzara said he stands by what he said in the video, calling it “100% factual.”

“I cannot answer why the mayor says anything, all I know is what I know and I stick by what I said,” Catanzara said. “The mayor has her reasons for doing what she does.”

Catanzara said he didn’t want to add anything further than that.

In that video, Catanzara said the deal is for eight years, but couldn’t go into details. He did say the agreement, covering thousands of rank-and-file Chicago police officers, was reached Thursday with the city’s negotiating team. It still must be ratified by his members, he said.

Getting a deal was important, since it avoided having to “roll the dice” with an arbitrator, Catanzara said in the video.

Catanzara said the delay in announcing the tentative deal was because Lightfoot is currently in California and her team must inform her of the move.

“I was told that she was briefly briefed on just the understanding that there was an agreement reached but that the formal briefing will occur when she returns to Chicago this weekend so she can understand the details of exactly what was agreed upon,” Catanzara said.

Police union and city officials have had a difficult time reaching agreement on a new contract, with one major point of contention being the police reforms the city wants to build into their next pact. Rank-and-file members have been without a contract for over four years.

Last fall, Catanzara reportedly stormed out of a bargaining session after the mayor’s team offered his members a 10% pay raise over four years in exchange for higher health care contributions and also added 17 pages filled with 40 disciplinary reforms. A week later, the FOP presented a counteroffer demanding a 17% pay raise over four years. Officers living outside the city, however, would get only half that amount.

Early this year, Lightfoot said the police union lacked a “sense of urgency” in negotiating for a new contract because a bargaining session hadn’t been scheduled yet three weeks into 2021.

Then, in May, the FOP issued a vote of no confidence in Lightfoot, CPD Supt. David Brown and First Deputy Supt. Eric Carter over the working conditions its members were subjected to.

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