Ill. police officers stage protest to demand back pay from city
East St. Louis officers estimate there is about $1.2 million owed to about 40 current and retired officers
By Taylor Tiamoyo Harris
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — East St. Louis police officers filed a petition against the city and mayor on Thursday after waiting years to receive court-ordered retroactive pay since 2016.
More than a handful of officers protested with signs about back pay outside of City Hall, getting the attention of city council members meeting inside and residents driving by. Later, Sgt. Keith Randolph and others walked inside City Hall to speak during the public comments portion of a city council committee meeting.
Randolph reminded the public and members of the council of the importance of their jobs, which is why they continue to serve despite not receiving their back pay over the years.
“We are not sitting up here asking for anything that’s just outlandish. We’re asking for our just due,” said Randolph to the city council members and public on Thursday.
On top of not paying all of the wage increases, which the state courts have ordered multiple times, the East St. Louis police officers say the city and police department refuse to recognize their new union as a collective bargaining unit.
Officers started receiving their negotiated pay increases in March 2022, but they say they have yet to answer for the retroactive pay from 2016 to 2022. They estimate there is about $1.2 million owed to about 40 current and retired officers.
“We are tired of waiting on our money,” said East St. Louis Officer Tia Mitchell, the union’s president. She’s been with the department for about five years.
“This has caused me not to want to be in law enforcement, honestly. This department has left a bad taste in my mouth.”
Mitchell says recently she was on patrol and responding to an overdose call when she was exposed to fentanyl. She and two other paramedics were taken to the hospital for treatment, and there was a lack of support from the department or any other public safety officials, she says.
Afterward, she was denied injured on duty pay, and Mitchell said the police chief warned her against attending union meetings while on sick leave following her hospitalization from that incident.
The petition for the officers against the city and mayor was filed on Thursday by East St. Louis police officers’ new police union, the Police Benevolent and Protective Association. Exactly 22 of 27 officers who qualify for membership have joined, equaling the union representation of more than half of the police department.
The officers’ petition accuses the city and police department of retaliatory, union-busting tactics such as punishing police union members without investigation or just cause.
“When city leaders play games with frontline public servants, they diminish the safety and well-being of the entire community,” said the union’s representative, David Amerson.
East St. Louis Mayor Charles Powell III did not return a request for comment on Thursday, and East St. Louis police Chief Kendall Perry declined to comment.
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