Chicago FOP president suspended

March 5, 2014 7:19:10 PM PST
The Illinois FOP has suspended the president of the union representing Chicago police officers - and prohibited Mike Shields from negotiating with the city - after accusing him of violating his oath and branding him a ''dictator.''

The extraordinary step by State FOP President Ted Street was announced at a general membership meeting Tuesday night where a Monroe District beat car was called to "police the police" amid fears it could get ugly.

Street's power play comes just two days after Shields leveled the explosive charge that the last two police contracts, dictated by an independent arbitrator, were "fixed" in the city's favor and the recent sergeants contract arbitration may also have been rigged.

"Yesterday I blew the whistle on our past president for engaging in prearranged and fixed arbitration hearings with the city of Chicago. Today his close ally Ted Street of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police takes a retaliatory action against me. This is completely wrong and Ted Street has unilaterally done this without his board's authority," Shields told ABC7.

That was the final straw, but not the only reason Street triggered a disciplinary process that will culminate in an investigation by a five-member committee and a hearing before the State FOP's 30-member board, where Shields will have the opportunity to present a defense.

There was also an embarrassing paperwork mistake that Mayor Rahm Emanuel seized upon to deny rank-and-file police officers their automatic right to a retroactive pay raise in 2012. Shields apologized to his members for the oversight.

"We're all aware of his late filing for the demand to bargain and his late filing of an unfair labor practices complaint. We have in jeopardy a year's wage increase. The mayor's office has said that's in jeopardy. We have allegations that reflect upon the sergeants and the last [union] administration. There's been no factual basis forthcoming to justify his allegations," Street said Wednesday.

"There comes a point where, enough's enough. We serve the members and not ourselves. It's a culmination of the judgment he's exercised, his leadership style, how he has not acted in the best interest of the Chicago FOP membership. I've attended meetings. I've watched how he runs them, with no parliamentarian. He's operating as a dictator. He's needs to understand that it's not his way and only his way. Everyone answers to someone."

"This past Monday Lodge President Michael K. Shields publicly accused respected arbitrators, City and FOP labor lawyers, and present and former Lodge officials of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud during past contract negotiations," FOP Lodge 7 spokesman Pat Camden wrote in a news release. "Due to the recent actions of President Shields, Illinois State FOP Lodge President Ted Street was forced to suspend President Shields', 'membership rights, duties and authority and therefore is suspended as President of Chicago FOP Lodge #7,' pending a hearing before the State Lodge Board of Trustees. Based on the FOP Lodge 7 by-laws, First Vice President William Dougherty will be the Acting President of the Lodge until the next Board of Directors meeting.

During the Tuesday night meeting, Shields sent defiant text messages to the Chicago Sun-Times. He claimed the state FOP was doing the bidding of the former union leaders whom Shields has accused of being in cahoots with the city.

"They can't remove me. They don't have the authority. It's an illegal act and frivolous," he wrote in the Tuesday night text.

"The state president is Mark Donahue's little lackey. Mark Donahue will try every play in the book. He should be apologizing to the members for screwing them over. I've done more fighting against the city than Mark Donahue has done in nine years. Unlike him, I don't play ball with the city," Shields wrote in another text, referring to the immediate past FOP president.

What Shields didn't mention is that his six handpicked field representatives walked off the stage to dramatize their demand that he resign. That forced Shields to deliver his president's report while standing alone, a "pathetic" sight, according to one officer in attendance.

According to those in the meeting, Shields finished his report. Then each field representative came to the stage to give his report and walked off again.

A state FOP representative handed Shields papers saying he was being brought up on charges to remove him from office.

At one point during the meeting, an on-duty sergeant and two officers were dispatched to the FOP hall at 1412 W. Washington to "ensure that order and safety was maintained," said Adam Collins, a spokesman for the CPD.

"But at no point did CPD interfere with the business of the union."

"The remaining Field Representatives would like to publicly extend a deep apology to those who were named in the Chicago Sun-Times article," Camden said. "Lastly, to our members, we want you to know that we are deeply saddened by these recent turns of events and understand the present 'crisis in confidence' the members have in their Union. Based on your dedication and duty to the welfare our City, your wage and work conditions must be our number one priority. With that in mind, we promise that our commitment to you will not change in the remaining months before the Lodge election."

Contacted Wednesday, Shields refused to say whether he plans to fight the charges or even whether he plans to run for re-election in March.

He would only say: "I've blown the whistle against Mark Donahue, Bill Dougherty, Rich Aguilar and Greg Bella. This action by the State FOP is all being orchestrated by Mark Donahue and the others. They're retaliating against me for revealing this to the inspector general."

Sources said Dougherty has been considering running against Shields for president. Shields banished Dougherty from FOP headquarters, and he's been assigned to a beat car in the Morgan Park District. Dougherty, the elected first vice president, will likely be selected to replace Shields because he's next in line in the FOP hierarchy, the sources said.

At Tuesday night's meeting, nominating petitions were collected for those running for office, according to those who attended.

Shields has been a thorn in the mayor's side with his constant demands for more police hiring to ease a severe manpower shortage. An actuarial report distributed by Shields helped to torpedo a sergeants' contract that the mayor hoped to use as a roadmap for solving the city's nearly $20 billion pension crisis.

Emanuel got even by offering Chicago police officers a 5-percent pay raise over three years with no retroactive pay raise and demanding that active officers double their health care contributions while new retirees pay 4 percent of annuities for coverage now provided for free. Rank-and-file police officers have been working off an old contract that expired last year.

The disarray within the Chicago police union can only strengthen the mayor's hand at the bargaining table as a pivotal deadline looms for the city to contribute $600 million to stabilize police and fire pension fines.

But those involved in the coup say it's designed to level the playing field by restoring stability to a union in upheaval.

"He's gone off the deep end," said one of Shields' detractors. "When he is eliminated, we can get back to day-to-day operations. We will move on."

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.


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