Citi’s chief labor negotiator fired in interview on Sun-Times podcast, sources say


As the city’s longtime chief labor negotiator, attorney Jim Franzek worked for and survived four Chicago mayors: Jane Byrne, Harold Washington, Richard M. Daley, and Rahm Emanuel. Couldn’t survive the fifth mayor, Lori Lightfoot.

Lightfoot, who is on vacation, called Franzek on Monday for a lengthy interview on the Chicago Sun-Times podcast that essentially endorsed Paul Vallas over Brandon Johnson in the April 4 mayoral election, sources said. He was summarily dismissed for doing so.

Franzek declined to comment on Lightfoot’s decision to fire him.

The Sun-Times interview infuriated Lightfoot, abruptly ending nearly 40 years of Franzek’s relationship with the city and signing countless contracts between the city and its police officers, firefighters and public schools. It was not known about teachers and construction unions.

In the interview, Franczek portrayed Vallas as the “clear choice” for Chicago’s mayor and expressed serious concerns about Johnson’s role as CTU’s paid organizer.

Franczek sat on the opposite side of the negotiating table while Vallas was serving as an unpaid adviser to the FOP.

Without Valas’ persuasion, Francek said that the contract would include all of the “core police accountability provisions” demanded by city council members and a consent order outlining the terms of federal court oversight of the Chicago Police Department. argued that there would have been no

Before being defeated in Round 1 of the mayoral election, Lightfoot accused Vallas of receiving law and order “marching orders” from his longtime nemesis, newly re-elected FOP President John Cattanzala.

In an interview with the Sun-Times, Franczek said, “It is a complete misunderstanding that Paul Vallas, not a wallflower, was commissioned by John Catanzara.”

Franczek described Vallas as a “deal maker” who “makes things work”. He was the CEO of Chicago Public Schools during his six years from 1995 to 2001, during which he and Vallas negotiated together for his four years. Pointed out a pair of teacher contracts.

“Before that, from 1968 to 1995, there were 11 strikes. There were 20 one- or two-year collective bargaining agreements. I did,” Franzek said.

“Paul stepped in and signed two four-year collective bargaining agreements for eight years, bringing stability, flexibility and predictability to the system. And it was nothing like the Chicago Teachers Union. [leaders] It was a bunch of pansies back then,” said Franczek.

After receiving $5 million in campaign contributions from CTU and millions of dollars in campaign contributions from SEIU Locals 1 and 73 and SEIU Healthcare, Franczek said to both unions, I can’t imagine not feeling it.”

“He said, ‘I’m leaving the Chicago Teachers Union.’ I can’t believe it,” he said.

On September 30, 1997, Jim Franzek, the city's chief labor negotiator, Edward Altman, deputy fire commissioner, and Mayor Richard M. Daly.

In this September 1997 photo, the city’s chief labor negotiator, Jim Franzek (left), appears with deputy fire commissioner Edward Altman and mayor Richard M. Daly.

Franczek was asked if there was a “personality conflict” between Lightfoot and CTU president Stacey Davis Gates behind the long and bitter battle between the mayor and CTU. The two sides have been at odds for four years, including his 11-day strike in 2019 and his two acts of labor during the pandemic.

“The Chicago Teachers Union has evolved and changed a lot over the years,” Franzek said.

The 2019 contract states, “It’s not just about your meat and potatoes. [of] There were much more important issues than just money and benefits,” said Franczek. “We are looking for social workers. We are looking for nurses. We have negotiated with the homeless. There was a sense of union convergence.”

“You also had very strong leadership. Stacey Davis Gates is a formidable person. She’s very bright. She’s very dedicated. So is Mayor Lightfoot. It’s like you put that stuff together. It’s something,” said Franczek.

The interview concluded with Franczek being asked to identify the easiest and least difficult mayors.

“Lord in Heaven,” he said, “that is an impossible question to answer.” “You can’t easily characterize Daley, Emmanuel, and Lightfoot. No matter who says they’re the hardest and hardest to work with, you still have the same problem. They all have their own challenges.” .”


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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