When a new boss asks for a pay cut, you have the option of accepting it.
A new mayor in Chicago’s Liberty Personnel Services (LPS) Board of Directors said in a letter to employees last month that she “believes that your personal and professional freedom to choose how you work is essential to your job performance.”
LPS’s director of human resources told the staff that she was seeking a pay increase and was “pushing for an increase to $13.50/hour.”
The letter was obtained by the Chicago Tribune, and the board’s president, Mary Lou Hagen, responded in a Facebook post that LPS will seek a $13-an-hour increase “for the first time in its history.”
But LPS employees who are eligible for raises are given the option to apply for one, and LPS Board President Mary LouHagen is asking employees to do so, saying, “We believe that the increased salary should be offered for an employee’s own choice.”
LPLS is part of a nationwide union of city public employees.
LPS does not have a policy on employee choice, and employees are free to make the decision they think best for themselves, but LPS has had a contentious relationship with unions in recent years.
In 2016, LPS laid off a full quarter of its workforce, which included more than 100 police officers, as the result of a citywide strike.
The city later settled with the police union for a total of $20 million.
LPLP officials said in 2016 that the layoffs were in response to an “increased workload” of police officers and a “higher cost to taxpayers.”
The city said at the time that LPL was being held to the same standard as public employees in terms of staffing, overtime pay, and benefits.
In 2015, the Chicago Teachers Union voted to unionize and form a bargaining unit, and in 2016, the union filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s use of overtime pay.
In December 2016, a federal judge found that LPGs contract with LPS violated the National Labor Relations Act.
A federal judge in 2016 also ruled that LPMS violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to offer a salary raise to its employees who requested it.
LPG officials also disputed the federal judge’s finding that LPA employees were not treated fairly under their collective bargaining agreement.
LPD fired nearly 40 officers after they refused to participate in a “coup” that was scheduled to take place on November 2.
LPA officials argued that the police department was not obligated to provide a raise, but the judge disagreed.
He ruled that the department could only be held accountable if it gave a raise to officers who chose to walk off the job.
A spokeswoman for the LPA did not respond to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for LPL said LPL has not filed a complaint with the National Employment Law Project or the Office of the Special Counsel, but it did say that it has been “forced to take action because of our failure to pay our employees” and because of the “public’s interest in the quality of life for our officers.”
LPD spokesperson Adam Collins said LPS did not “make any promises or threats” to pay raises, and said LPG did not request an increase for 2016 because the department was already overfunded.
Collins said in an email that “the city has been in a constant state of emergency since the 2016 police officers strike.”
He said the department had been in negotiations with LPLs bargaining unit “for a while,” but LPL had not reached a deal with LPD.
“We’ve been working to resolve our differences, but unfortunately, they have not been resolved,” Collins said.
LPC spokesperson Erin Coyle said in February that the city was not in compliance with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines on collective bargaining.
“The city does not allow city employees to make personal choices regarding whether to work with their own union or not,” Coyle wrote.
“That is why the city is not in a position to provide pay raises to LPL workers.”
LPC’s contract with the city expired in 2020, but in 2017, LPL’s leaders voted to form a new bargaining unit.
LPNS also has had an off-the-record, confidential “labor peace” process with the LPL.
The process, which has been widely publicized, has involved LPL employees holding meetings, and then LPL officials offering a pay raise in a public forum.
LPMs first round of pay raises took place in April.
In October, the city announced it was ending the process altogether, citing the state’s moratorium on collective bargaining for public employees and a lack of public trust in the process.
Lpls leaders said in December that the process had been going on for months, and that the LPD’s contract “is not enforceable.”