The Fraternal Order of Police president is apologizing for the mistake, but he is refusing to give up the fight for back pay.
The head of their union says it was a paperwork misunderstanding, but it could cost cops on the street real money. According to the union's contract with the city, Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields missed the deadline to notify the city last spring of his intention to terminate the contract and negotiate a new deal. That meant the city was not obligated to pay retroactive raises to the officers.
"There's 10,000 members and it probably cost each officer about $1,500 to $2,000 each, so we're looking at a $20 million mistake," said Pat Murray, Chicago police officer.
Shields says he filed the letter within the two-month legal time limit imposed by the state, but not the one-month time frame called for in the contract with the city.
Nevertheless, the F.O.P president says he believes Mayor Rahm Emanuel could approve the retroactive raises. But he says the mayor is instead trying to use the issue to fracture the union.
Political observers say it's likely the union will have to give something else up now if they expect the mayor to approve the pay raises.
"What I read was they made a mistake. Let's get to the negotiating table and talk about all issues," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The issue is also embarrassing to Shields, who faces political battles inside his union with the F.O.P.'s next election in the spring.
"The ultimate responsibility of submitting any paperwork out of this office comes from the president, and I'm the president, and I'm the one to blame on this," said Shields.
"Everyone could use an extra $1500. It's a lot of money," said Murray.
"I want to hear it out of the Mayor's mouth, that he's going to deprive the officers of one year of a raise," said Shields.
Shields also missed a deadline to file an unfair labor practice over the issue.
He says he is filing an appeal with the state labor board.