The embattled president of the union that represents rank-and-file Chicago police officers has been officially removed from office some three months after stirring controversy when he publicly questioned the fairness of past contract negotiations, the union announced today.
Michael Shields was stripped of his position on Tuesday following a 15-11 vote by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7’s board of directors.
He had been suspended from the union since December after he sent a letter to the city’s inspector general asserting that three recent police contracts – two for officers and one for sergeants – were rigged by City Hall, union bosses and an independent arbitrator to benefit the city.
Shields has said that he sent the letter because the city and union were nearing arbitration during the current negotiations over a new police contract.
Last month, Shields filed a whistleblower lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against the FOP, alleging that he was suspended without due process. As part of the lawsuit, he filed an injunction to be placed on the ballot for the upcoming FOP election, claiming that his suspension was unjust and that the FOP was punishing him for writing the letter.
The judge denied the injunction, but the latter part of the lawsuit is still pending.
Shields declined to comment today. But one of his lawyers, Ethan White, said Tuesday’s decision by the board of directors is typical of what is seen in whistleblower lawsuits, and he believes Shields is being “dragged through the mud” and “put through the ringer” by his former FOP colleagues.
“Now Mike is left to pursue his lawsuit and eventually vindicate his rights,” White said.
Shortly after Shields was suspended in December, labor attorney James Franczek, who represents the city in the current contract negotiations, said Shields sent the letter to the inspector general in an effort to further his re-election. Franczek also denied the allegations of rigged arbitrations in recent contracts, calling the letter "outrageous."
The FOP is now run by acting president Bill Dougherty. He is seeking the permanent post against four other candidates in an election scheduled for Friday.
The police department has returned Shields to beat patrol duties on the morning shift in the Near North District, which includes the Gold Coast, Magnificent Mile, River North and Old Town Triangle neighborhoods.