Chicago first responders protest contract delays at NASCAR race, demand action from mayor

Chicago's first responders said they're last when it comes to getting a contract and on Saturday, they vented their frustrations at the NASCAR downtown street race.

Several hundred Chicago police officers, firefighters and paramedics marched down Michigan Avenue along the NASCAR route before race time, calling attention to their ongoing battles for new contracts. 

"The mayor says constantly he's a pro-union mayor – that this is a pro-union city. It's not. Not only has he violated the agreement between us and the city three times that he just negotiated, but the firefighters have been without a contract for three years. It's ridiculous," said President of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police John Catanzara. 

Police officers are angry with Mayor Brandon Johnson for pushing the city council to reject an independent arbitrator's ruling on police discipline. 

Firefighters have been working without a new contract since 2021 and also want the city to add 20 ambulances to its fleet. 

"Just think about it. July 4th, we had 55 shootings and 13 fires. We responded to all that. Some of us responded to those incidents shorthanded. Some of them were on overtime working 48 hours in a row. It needs to stop. Our workers are overworked," said Catanzara. 

The unions representing first responders plan to hold a similar protest during the Democratic National Convention in August, hoping that national media attention will force the mayor to take them seriously. 

"Have some labor peace. Give the supervisors in the Chicago Police Department their contract. Give the firefighters their contract. What are we waiting for?"