Statement Regarding the Fraternal Order of Police Collective Bargaining Agreement

Loudspeakers and Public Statement on red background

Re: Concerns Related to the City’s Approach and Negotiations related to the Fraternal Order of Police Collective Bargaining Agreement

Esteemed Mayor Brandon Johnson and Staff, 

On Wednesday, December 13th, the Chicago City Council voted to pass the City’s negotiated contract with the Fraternal Order of the Police.

As Alders, public safety is our number one priority. Public safety requires that we can support and partner with the Chicago Police Department as well as other public servants to keep our city safe. 

An FOP agreement is central to that partnership, and as such, it is where we address matters of compensation, benefits, and accountability. As we voted individually and differently on the contract, which was divided into two votes, the undersigned Councilmembers want to express concerns related to 1)  the process, 2) the contract, and 3) the arbitration clause, for the public record. Knowing that we owe it to the public to constantly improve, we want to list our concerns transparently, so that we can improve how we address them going forward as a municipal government. 

The Process


  • Before Negotiations: While it is fair that negotiations are between the city’s lawyers and a union’s representation, it is equally fair to expect that the City Council be provided a full understanding of the goals and demands from the City prior to the negotiation. Establishing a process for that communication between the council and negotiators helps when reviewing terms after negotiations. It allows us to determine the efficacy of the legal team and understand what has been gained, as opposed to being told what we gained, with no expectations set prior. 
  • Post Negotiations/Before Votes: As legislators with both fiduciary and accountability responsibilities, members of the City Council as well as members of the public deserve the time and ability to review the actual contract language before votes are taken. In this instance, the contract negotiation language itself was not released to the public until the day of the Committee vote, which was counter to good government, transparency, accessibility, and accountability. Groups like the ACLU, CCPSA, COPA, and other oversight groups also need time to review and provide analysis and feedback. Due to the lack of time for review, we didn’t find out until the night before the Council meeting that groups like the Better Government Association had concerns (reported here: :

The Contract

Compensation and Accountability

Compensation and Budget Concerns: As we take public safety seriously, we feel strongly that public servants, especially those who have one of the most dangerous jobs in city government, should be compensated fairly and adequately for their labor. 

We also know as fiscal stewards of taxpayer dollars that there are budgetary implications that also have to be accounted for with any collective bargaining agreement (CBA). As such, we do want to voice concern regarding the implication for future budgets, given the increases. As those who will be expected to vote to approve a budget that accounts for these increased costs, we should have been more deeply engaged in dialogue about the plan to raise the revenue to account for them in the years ahead. 

Accountability: Given the nature of Chicago’s documented history of police misconduct and related settlements, we are committed to accountable policing. The vast majority of police officers risk their lives daily in their service to protect and commitment to justice. There is also a smaller percentage that diminishes the integrity of the profession and shouldn’t be officers, based on their behavior and misconduct. Because of that reality, we must take the necessary steps to ensure accountability–steps that are crucial to restoring trust between the Chicago Police Department and all communities.

The contract presented to the City Council included no substantial improvements in accountability since the 2021 CBA. Since that time, the state has strengthened accountability measures, so we were disappointed not to see similar progress in the City contract. Further, we were disheartened to hear from the City’s negotiators that they didn’t demand more on this front in the latest CBA, even as they admitted that the City has failed to implement accountability measures that were agreed upon in 2021 negotiations.

Even more concerning, language in the latest agreement actually weakens the level of accountability, including:

  1. Body Worn Cameras: New provisions in the contract prohibit the use of Body Worn Cameras as evidence in misconduct investigations under circumstances related to when and where recordings take place (such as in locker room conversations), and allow for the deletion of video footage in these instances. The prohibitions also extend to the use of post-incident conversations, which will hamper efforts to ensure accountability of police handling of these incidents. These provisions directly contradict current state law as well as the Consent Decree and will lead to future years of lawsuits, costing the city even more.
  1. Abbreviated Arbitration (referred to in the contract as People’s Court): This provision would allow for immediate, same day arbitrations in instances that could lead to suspensions of less than 30 days. In these same day arbitrations, parties are not allowed to submit written arguments, and they are allowed to be recorded by a court reporter, which will eliminate transparency and accountability.
  1. Investigation Time Limits: This clause allows the FOP to request arbitration in cases where investigations last beyond 18 months, to determine whether there is reasonable cause for the investigation to take longer than 18 months. In such cases, investigators will bear the burden to prove that the length of time is reasonable; if an arbitrator determines that there is no reasonable cause, they may reverse or dismiss the investigation. The majority of investigations performed take longer than 18 months. The Chief of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) has expressed a clear need for increased capacity for the agency to meet the new requirements, but also expressed the preference for a sunrise for the implementation of the provision, to allow time for the agency to make operational and staffing adjustments. We need to hear a clear plan from the Administration to ensure these measures are executed expeditiously.. 

The Arbitration Clause

Labor Law and Transparency

Labor Law: We acknowledge that labor unions have the right to arbitration, and the Chicago Police Department doesn’t have the right to strike as other unions do. 

The members of the Fraternal Order of Police, it should also be acknowledged, are given the ability to arrest, detain, shoot, and kill as a consequence of that dangerous public safety work, which is unique and distinct from other labor unions, and as such, they bear the responsibility to a higher standard of accountability.

Given this distinction between the FOP and other unions, we agree that urging the Illinois General Assembly to provide and reinforce the transparency and accountability provided by the Chicago Police Board as it relates to the less than 1% of their membership–those who face suspension 365 or more days or who are facing removal from the force. 

Transparency: Given the nature of how complex and challenging the decision making in public safety situations can be, as well as the distinct experience of the public servants charged with making those decisions, it is in the best interest of the public and of the FOP to have a transparent and public process. The public deserves to understand how decision making occurs. The council voting to reject the arbitration requirement is a reflection of that need for transparency.

We fought hard to create instruments that would allow for greater police accountability, and we must uphold those instruments to live up to our duty as elected officials. We believe this contract represents a step in the wrong direction. The process has fallen short of our commitment to provide greater transparency and accessibility to the public. The final contract significantly undercuts the City’s ability to provide urgently needed accountability for the Chicago Police Department, and the arbitration jeopardizes the necessary transparency.

Our hope is that this communication will serve as a record of these concerns in the goal of improving processes and results going forward, in the interest of the public good, safety, and justice. 


Signature of Andre Vasquez

Alderperson Andre Vasquez, 40th Ward

Alderperson Desmon Yancy, 5th Ward

Alderperson Julia Ramirez, 12th Ward

Alderperson Jessie Fuentes, 26th Ward

Alderperson Angela Clay, 46th Ward

Alderperson Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth, 48th Ward