The clock runs out on Chicago's Police Department and Fire Department union contracts Saturday night, but don't expect any difference in how cops and firefighters respond to emergencies around the city if the deal remains unresolved.
Both unions are prohibited from striking, and it's not unusual for contract talks to drag on past the "drop dead" date as the two groups haggle with the city over salaries, incentives and contract minutiae.
If history is any indicator, it could be years before a new contract is in place. Last time around, police and fire deals that expired in 2007 weren't replaced with new ones until 2010. Cops and firefighters worked under the terms of their old deals until new ones were worked out, and the same will happen this time when agreements aren't reached by Saturday night.
Then there's this nonsense that always pops up:
- Citing a "gentlemen's agreement" with the city not to negotiate in public, Fraternal Order of Police President Michael Shields declined to discuss the status of talks on a new deal.
"Gentlemen's Agreements" only work when one is negotiating with actual gentlemen. Persons who mail dead fish around, stab podiums and confront naked Congressmen in the shower arne't usually "gentlemen."
As in years past, Rahm will use the old Shortshanks trick of dropping friendly media types stories that can smear the cops, firefighters and teachers. He's already got a PR firm running attack ads against the teachers for even daring to hold a strike vote. And just last week, he had his tame Sun Times reporters running a story about firefighter "perks" that raised their pay - raises completely in line with other fire departments across the country and completely within the bounds of negotiated contracts.