Chicago police sergeants union reject mayor`s contract offer - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Chicago police sergeants union reject mayor`s contract offer

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Mayor Emanuel called it a "road map" to solving city hall's public employee pension crisis without having to double property taxes, but now, Chicago police sergeants overwhelmingly voted "no" to the city's contract offer.

The mayor signaled that he believes it's now up to the General Assembly to rescue taxpayers from huge increases coming because of the pension crisis. This latest vote indicates government employees will not agree voluntarily to any reduction in retirement benefits.

The small union representing Chicago police sergeants was the first to cut a deal with City Hall on pension reform, tying it to a proposed four-year contract with a 9% pay raise. But nearly 87% of union members voted to reject it.

"There was a lot of things in there that people didn't care for, whether it was one, two or three of these issues, or all of 'em," says James Ade, President of Chicago Police Sergeants Association.

The now-dead pension reform deal with police sergeants would have gradually raised their current retirement age from 50 to 53, with 20 years of service; raised pension contributions from the current 9% of base wages to 12%; and required, for the first time, that retirees pay 2% of their pensions for health insurance, until age 65, when they get Medicare.

"If you took the same deal to my members -- I know it was a four or five to one vote today -- it would be a 50 to one vote in my membership," says Michael Shields.

Fraternal Order of Police Michael Shields' represents about 10,000 rank and file Chicago cops, was just one of the local union leaders happy about the rejection of Mayor Emanuel's "road map" to pension reform. Shields objects to any reduction in retirement benefits. Mayor Emanuel has warned that would force City Hall to more than double its property tax levy next year, an economic disaster for many homeowners.

"Over the last 25 years, the City of Chicago has been on a pension holiday," Shields says. "They've been told over and over by the actuaries, 'here's what you need to pay' and they've paid about 40% of what was required."

Reacting to the sergeants' vote, the Mayor said in a written statement: "I am disappointed...I intend to move forward with reforming our pension system in order to protect taxpayers and keep our city financially secure."

The State of Illinois settled a Securities & Exchange Commission Monday. The feds charged that while Rod Blagojevich was governor, the state illegally concealed from bond buyers just how bad the public employee pension crisis really is. The markets long since figured that out.

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