Following teachers’ lead, police union plans on fighting for a raise of its own

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CHICAGO — The Fraternal Order of Police was watching when the Chicago Teachers Union won a 16 percent pay raise during contract talks with the mayor, and now they’re ready to fight for a raise of their own.

Murray says the union has run out patience and wants an independent arbitrator to take up its demand for an 18 percent pay raise over three years.

"We’re here after two mayors, two-and-a-half years later we don’t have a contract; sooner or later you gotta file for arbitration. We’ve got to look out for our members," FOP Vice President Patrick Murray said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot shrugged off talk of bringing in an arbitrator Thursday. Despite her frosty relationship with the FOP,  the mayor said her administration continues to negotiate in good faith.

"I’ve said it to the president of FOP that we do want to get things moved along as expeditiously as we can," Lightfoot said. "I understand the frustration because the contract has been expired for a number of years."

Among the most continuous issues are police oversight and accountability. The two sides are lightyears apart, as the FOP opposes a consent decree mandating changes in the way officers are trained and supervised.

"Our police officers do a good job every day. They’re out here every day fighting and they’re locking people up and doing the right thing. And I don’t know what her specific ideas for police accountability but they will probably be different than mine," Murray said.

Eddie Johnson is out as Chicago's Top Cop, and Interim Superintendent Charlie Beck is now in command as the police board searches for a permanent replacement. Murray says he hopes the pick comes from within the department.

"I think it should be a police officer from Chicago who is a street cop whose got a great record. And guy who understands what it is to work in some of these high crime areas," Murray said.

FOP leadership elections are set for this spring. Murray says he wants to remain union vice president while Kevin Graham seeks another term as president.

Graham and Murray have clashed sharply with mayors Lightfoot and Emanuel. We’ll see if the rank-and-file favor their contentious approach.

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