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Mayor Has Hands Full With Union Negotiations

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Credit: CBS)

Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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CHICAGO (CBS) — If you think negotiations with Chicago teachers were tough, wait until you see what happens when the city sits down with representatives for police and firefighters.

Both contracts expired June 30. There’s really no rush in this case, because police and firefighters can’t strike. And in the past, it’s taken years to reach agreement when old contracts expire.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports.

Mayor Emanuel spoke Friday morning to recent fire academy graduates and had praise for their profession. He has been reaching out to firefighters, quietly visiting firehouses all over the city.

He appeared to be making progress, until union president Tom Ryan described a recent offer to members in as “horrendous,” “insulting” and “ridiculous.”

There have been two negotiating sessions, but no movement.

The FOP is not as far along, with lower-level negotiators having met only once, just last week. The city expected to offer small raises while demanding changes in work rules and other benefits including sick days.

Union President Mike Shields won’t discuss the talks, but he pointedly asked the mayor to remember the professionalism shown by police officers during the NATO summit.

Neither the police nor fire negotiations are expected to progress until after the city seals a deal with teachers, who recently reached an agreement to lengthen the school day; they say they could still strike over other unresolved issues.

Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard seemed optimistic, during an appearance on CBS 2 Friday morning.

“Things are moving,” he said.

There’s a clear difference between the teachers talks and the public safety negotiations. The teachers wanted more money to work longer days. The police and firefighters’ issues involve staffing, specialty pay and other work rules.