Excerpts from the ChicagoSunTimes.com:

Rank-and-file firefighters and paramedics were informed this week that Tom Ryan, their leader for the last nine years, is calling it quits as president of the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2. He’s not running for re-election. He retired in November after 34 years as a Chicago firefighter.

Instead, former Union President Dan Fabrizio, who’s now serving as legislative director for Local 2, will face off against business agent Jim Tracy.

The changing of the guard at Local 2 comes as the union gears up to negotiate another contract.

Five years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel took aim at treasured union perks that included the clothing allowance; holiday and duty-availability pay; pay grades; premium pay; non-duty lay-up coverage; a physical fitness incentive and a 7-percent premium paid to cross-trained firefighter-paramedics.

The mayor subsequently backed away from all of those concession demands in a pre-election contract that won him the surprise endorsement of Local 2, a union that had endorsed mayoral challenger Gery Chico over Emanuel in 2011.

The contract that expires June 30 called for Chicago firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians to get an 11 percent pay raise over five years, but ends free health care for those who retire between the ages of 55 and 65.

Ryan returned the favor by signing on to a deal that gave Chicago 15 more years to ramp up to a 90 percent funding level for police and fire pensions.

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed that bill. But three Republican crossover votes helped Emanuel overturn the governor’s veto. Now, Emanuel is under pressure to get tough with the union again.

Last year, Inspector General Joe Ferguson concluded that Chicago taxpayers were shelling out $5 million-a-year to provide a uniform allowance to firefighters and paramedics that’s more like an “automatic cash bonus” because it’s “completely unmoored from any determination of actual need or use.”

The uniform allowance — $1,250 or $1,500, depending on the assignment — is supposed to be used for the maintenance and cleaning of uniforms.

In his audit, Ferguson compared uniform issuances, exchanges and allowances at the Chicago Fire Department to similar spending in New York City, Philadelphia, Toronto, Dallas, San Diego and Indianapolis. The CFD issued fewer dress and work uniform items to new hires than most other cities and spent less per employee than any other city surveyed.

But, that comparative advantage is more than offset by an annual uniform allowance that is among the most generous in the nation, Ferguson concluded.

In yet another audit, Ferguson concluded that the fire department could save at least $1.2 million a year and potentially millions more in overtime by hiring civilians to perform 34 administrative jobs that have nothing to do with firefighting or emergency medical service.

One of the slots listed as a potential civilian position was the job of commissary liaison, charged with resolving uniform exchange disputes between members and the outside vendor. The job is currently filled by a fire department captain.

thanks Dan

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