The Fraternal Order of Police say they are prepared to file an unfair labor practice charge against the brass of the Chicago Police Department over a plan to implement a pilot program in three districts which the union says violates their contract, and will disrupt the lives of hundreds of officers.
At issue is the schedules of the officers, which puts them on a different day-off rotation from the sergeants who are their immediate supervisors.
"The department is throwing a wrench in these officers' lives," said FOP President Mike Shields. "This is something that is a contract violation."
But Superintendent Garry McCarthy says all he is doing is trying to improve accountability.
"If you get a different direction from a different supervisor every single day, you're probably going to lose your mind," said McCarthy. "We want to align the day-off groups and say, 'Sarge, you're in charge of these ten officers. You're in charge of them every single day you work with them. You can account for them.'"
But to do so, the officers will have to be bumped to a different day-off cycle in the department's complicated four-day-on, two-day-off rotation. Shields says the officers plan very specific calendars a year in advance. And now that will be disrupted.
"Imagine having a babysitter that you have planned out for the month of December, and all of a sudden you have to pull back on the schedule," Shields said.
For his part, McCarthy said he was baffled at the union's fury. Especially, he said, because he was prepared to delay the change until after the holidays.
"It just doesn't make sense to me," McCarthy said. "I'm doing my best to take care of the officers who are busting their butts and putting their lives on the line every single day."
Now, McCarthy says he intends to implement the change this coming Sunday. Shields says he has an unfair labor practice action drawn up and ready to file.
Another meeting is scheduled for Monday to try to avert what is shaping up as a rather acrimonious labor battle, the last thing the department needs as it heads into the home stretch of 2013.