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Chicago IG Suggests Cost Savings In Contract Negotiations

The city of Chicago is set to renegotiate some major union contracts this year, and the city’s inspector general is suggesting places where it could save money.

These collective bargaining agreements cover 90 percent of city workers, including police officers and firefighters, and many of them are set to expire next month. 

Inspector General Joe Ferguson said most of these contracts were negotiated 10 years ago when city finances were healthier and then-Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration was trying to win union support for the Olympics bid. On Wednesday, Ferguson released a report that detailed a few places where his office thought the city could negotiate some savings. 

For example, Ferguson said instead of giving automatic uniform allowances, money could be given out to city employees based on need. He also suggests a revamp of the police comp time system, as his office calculated the city paid out more than $23 million dollars to officers retiring in 2013 and 2014. 

“It is incumbent on both management and labor to hold in mind the people of Chicago, who have a vested interest in the outcome of this complex and difficult task,” Ferguson said in a statement. “The people rightfully expect the City and its unions to protect public funds and to reward and incentivize public service by providing fair compensation and treating workers with respect.”

In response, Chicago Police Union President Kevin Graham said in a statement that he wouldn’t negotiate the police contract in the media, but he said the union has suggested a solution to the comp time issue in the past.

Lauren Chooljian covers city politics for WBEZ. You can follow her at @laurenchooljian

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