Home / General / Organized Labor and Police Militarization

Organized Labor and Police Militarization

Comments
/
/
/
323 Views

The AFL-CIO has come out pretty strongly against police militarization. Most of the unions seem fine with this. There is of course one major exception: The International Union of Police Associations. The IUPA is bickering a bit with AFL-CIO leadership over it.

And you know what? That’s fine. It’s the job of the IUPA to defend the interests of its members. In this case, that’s probably to have ridiculous armor and weapons. But it is the interest of the AFL-CIO to defend the American working class. Many of its unions are made up of the African-Americans and Latinos victimized by police violence. But the IUPA is doing its job here. We can choose to ignore it or oppose their position. I certainly am. But it’s OK that it holds that position. It is representing its members.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Brett

    Cabral is certainly a fucktard, though. I love that evasiveness he has regarding about why there isn’t a more diverse police force – “Sorry, our bosses just won’t hire them! It’s not like we could pressure them into hiring a more diverse police force in negotiations!”

    Telling, too, that he had to go back to 1997 – 17 years ago – to find an incident when the police found themselves outgunned and forced to improvised.

  • advocatethis

    This assumes, though, that it’s in the best interests of the police to have a militarized police force. I’m of the opinion that nobody, including the police, benefits from the chasm that has developed between the police and those they serve, certainly due in part to that militarization. Fewer cops will get shot on SWAT raids if there are fewer SWAT raids.

    • That’s a fair argument, but if the members themselves don’t think that, then the leadership is representing them. Obviously, it’s a lot more complicated than that however. Ideally, the police union leaders would be educating membership that it’s not in their interest to be this armed.

      • Marek

        I agree with this. Certainly there is at least some diversity of opinion among rank-and-file police officers on this subject.

      • DocAmazing

        Way back in the 1980s, there was a Soldier Of Fortune-esque magazine called Eagle that wrote a long and very well-written article arguing that there were far too many SWAT teams in the US, and that it was not only useless but counterproductive for every Nowheresville to have tactical cops. This was from armed right-wingers in Reagantime, mind you.

        Lots of cops recognize that if they’re cast in the role of an occupying army, they invite armed resistance.

        • tsam

          Very true. My dad was a career cop, and what scared him most is somebody who believes or really has nothing to lose.

          The apparent threat from a militarized police force could arguably increase the likelihood that fugitives think they need to fight or die.

        • Linnaeus

          Again, I have to go back to Bunny Colvin: that’s not policing, that’s just occupying territory.

    • Rob in CT

      Beat me to it.

      I get Loomis’ argument. A union has to represent its membership. However, at what point should leadership have a responsibility to push back a bit against its membership if membership’s majority position is dumb. Not by saying “you are dumb and we’re going to ignore you” obviously! It’s a tough position to be in.

      • In theory yes, but if the leadership reflects the members, it’s entirely possible the leadership will have the same worldview as the members.

        • Rob in CT

          Right, and I expect that’s the case here.

          I was speaking more theoretically.

  • mud man

    Yup. People should be empowered to organize their community around what they perceive as their own interests. “Have the right”, if you like.

    OTOH I guess the rest of us have something to say about the environment whatever community exists in.

    • joe from Lowell

      Yes, indeed. It’s called “pluralism.”

      Sometimes good people end up on different sides, because some people are charged with looking out for a specific set of interests, and other people’s job is to look out for a different set of interests.

      And that’s ok! That’s how it’s supposed to work.

      • ThrottleJockey

        Wait, there you go being all reasonable again…

  • Sly

    Related, Trumka’s speech to the Missouri AFL-CIO. He talks about racism and the role of the labor movement to confront it much more than police militarization, but he does address it candidly:

    But let’s not forget what our history teaches us: it’s always the employers who want the paramilitary forces, the National Guard, bayonets and armored cars and the weapons always end up pointed at us. The decision to militarize is always made up the chain of command, not by the citizenry or by rank-and-file police officers.

    • Really superficial observations:

      * Trumka has a great mustache. Guy is like a movie director’s dream pick for “labor leader”.

      * Those guys on his flank start fidgeting a lot more once he mentions race.

      * Jeez, it must be hard to be sitting up next to a speaker like that.

      * I’ve always been kind of a sucker for the “brother/sister” rhetoric of unions, as well as the old Wobbly “fellow worker”.

      * HE QUOTED DEBS. So happy at that.

      • mch

        Yes. Trumka is a real force. Which is why he no longer is on cable TV? Buoyed to hear he is still at it in the trenches.

        To Erik’s larger point: yes. Keep the conversation going. Otherwise, those who would divide will conquer.

  • CP

    If the police union is okay with police militarization, does that mean they’re okay with disbanding themselves? After all, the military isn’t unionized.

    • rea

      The military isn’t unionized in the US–but maybe it should be. It’s unionized in the Netherlands

      • Brad Nailer

        There was some pro-union noise made not long after the Vietnam War (I was a young USAF E4 at the tiime), but the movement went nowhere; the brass and the press came down on it pretty hard with messaging about upsets to the chain of command and to the nature of military subordination generally. I doubt there’s been much activity since then given the dynamics of the All-Volunteer Force, which came into being in the mid-70s under Rumsfeld, who was probably taking the long view vis a vis wars and drafts.

        I’m not sure the military needs a union as much as it needs sensible people in Congress and the DoD to look out for its interests in terms of pay and benefits, infrastructure and working conditions, and not sending people off to get killed for no good reason.

      • Lurker

        To offer my two cents, I could tell how it works in Finland. The military is thouroughly unionised, but as in all Finnish trade unions, along educational lines:
        * one union, the Officers’ League, for the commissioned officers. These have a university degree from the National Defence Academy.
        * one union for Warrant Officers, who have graduated from the National Defence College, which no longer exists.
        * one union for the NCO corps and temporary-service enlisted men in the crisis management operations, called the Military Trade Union
        * Military doctors are part of the Finnish Medical Association, while restricted line engineering officers (with a reserve officer training and an engineering degree) have a union of their own.

        The existence of these unions does not destroy the chain of command nor unit efficiency. There is a collective bargaining agreement on the national level for each union, which also sets the pay scales, and the unions are visible only when someone has a grievance. If there were a strike, the striking personnel would be negotiated amicably beforehand so that it would not hurt military readiness. (A normal situation in all Finnish public sector unions: no personnel in critically important duties will strike. Even in private sector, it is typical to limit strikes amicably so that no permanent equipment damage takes place and public safety is not endangered. For example, nuclear power plant guards, though unionised, were not included in a strike, when the security guards’ union organised a strike for all private security guards in the nation.)

        The conscripts are not organised. They have an advisory body organised by the FDF. In every company, the rank and file elect by open vote a member to the conscripts’ board of the brigade. (At least in my conscript companies, the vote was not influenced by the superiors.) The conscript corporals and officer cadets also have members, elected by all members of respective groups in brigade-level meetings.

        The chairman of the conscripts’ board, a full-time position, is always a conscript corporal selected by the brigade commander. (Typically he is the member elected by the NCO students of the NCO school, after his graduation.) The board, supervised by a commissioned officer, is responsible for organising R&R events, peer support activities and the bus transport of the conscripts on leave. Twice a year, the boards send their chairmen to a national meeting that will propose improvements fo conscripts’ life. This system has been enough to prevent any serious outside organisation of the conscripts.

  • Matt

    Honestly, don’t care what the IUPA has to say. I’d rather see them up to their eyeballs in appeals as police forces everywhere start cleaning house – every officer out there knows exactly which guys on his force are the racist, Dirty-Harry-meets-NRA-Jeebus, “your constitutional rights end at the barrel of my gun” assholes, it’s just a matter of firing them…

    • If you fire all the police, I’m curious where you think the “good” police are going to come to replace them all.

      • ThrottleJockey

        Really? With the unemployment rate among black men hovering around 11%, I think I can direct police commissioners to a good pool of recruits…

    • JL

      You’re making a lot of assumptions about the willingness of police forces to “clean house”, and what standards of behavior officers think are appropriate for fellow officers around issues like use of force, that I don’t think hold up. I have certainly run into police forces that got more and more rotten as you went up the chain of command (hi NYPD), and police forces where the large majority of police appear to be willing to behave badly. I’ve also watched plenty of “good” cops leap to extreme defensiveness and claim that they’re being oh-so-attacked the moment you suggest, however mildly, that some police officers behave badly.

      Solutions to police misconduct don’t appear to be coming from the IUPA, but they also don’t appear to be coming from the top brass.

  • TribalistMeathead

    It would be wonderful if the actual military came out in opposition to the militarization of the police.

    A lot of things would be wonderful, though.

    • thelogos

      Doubtful it would happen. When I was in, many guys getting out were lining up jobs with various police forces and when I was the National Guard, maybe 10% were either state troopers or police as well.

    • ThrottleJockey

      They probably have an economic incentive to clear out that old gear.

  • bluefish

    Erik,

    And you know what? That’s fine. It’s the job of the IUPA to defend the interests of its members.

    So as long as its someone’s job to advocate something, it makes whatever they are advocating ok? They are morally exempt from considering the societal effect of their actions? Erik, this is a terribly low bar for permissable behavior from a leader. Do I really need to give an example? No, but I will anyway.

    You know what? It’s the job of the KKK to the defend the interests of its members.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      comparing the IUPA to the KKK on these grounds strikes me as a ridiculous stretch of what Erik actually said

    • mpowell

      It is terribly low. I can’t imagine he would be okay describing things this way if he was talking about corporate officers at a company, “we’re just representing the interests of our shareholders here…”.

      I don’t know what the argument for giving a terrible union a pass on this when you would never grant it elsewhere. The members of the union and their leadership both deserve criticism for their terrible policy advocacy.

      • Anon21

        Right. Same thing goes for prison guards’ unions advocating increased use of solitary confinement, which they frequently do. That’s not “fine,” it’s immoral, even if it objectively would be in the members’ interest.

        Erik is very used to seeing the employer-employee power dynamic in these situations. He ignores the fact that in the context of police-citizen or guard-prisoner relationships, the power imbalance between the “workers” and the people they do their work on is far greater than the power imbalance between the workers and their bosses.

        When you’re talking about groups of people employed by the state to inflict violence, I think you need to seriously consider whether unionization is a good thing for society. Members of such a union will frequently have an interest, real or perceived, in loosening constraints on the use of violence and protecting members from consequences for their misuse of such violence. The bad consequences that flow from that kind of union advocacy may well outweigh the bad consequences of economic exploitation of non-unionized police and guards.

        • nixnutz

          Thanks for illustrating the slippery slope from bluefish’s argument that some unions take shitty positions to the argument that some workers shouldn’t have any rights.

          I feel like this post needs a second sentence but I can’t come up with anything polite.

          • Anon21

            So, if a worker has no right to form a union, that worker doesn’t have “any rights”? Clearly false.

            • Pretty much if a worker has no right to form a union, the worker has no rights. This is the case in the real actual world where we live. At best you are reliant upon the state to grant rights, but they aren’t real rights because the state can take them away if workers have no way to enforce those rights.

              • Anon21

                Granting that that’s so, why should the police officers and prison guards who exist in the real actual world where we live have employment rights, other than the right to quit if they don’t like their working conditions? These are agents of the state who inflict untold suffering on vulnerable people who have far fewer rights than any non-unionized American law enforcement officer.

                I mean, if you’re going to appeal to reality here, I ask again: where is the real, gaping power imbalance in the police boss-police officer-poor man on the street chain of command? If you accept the obvious answer, why do you accept bolstering the power of the officer against both boss and civilian?

                • All workers deserve rights. That doesn’t mean those rights necessarily trump other rights, but if you are picking and choosing who gets the right to unionize, then who is to say which workers receive those rights? Because in the real world, it is going to be the prison guards who have the right to unionize and the teachers who do not. Actual reality is one where there are lots of forces that allow for police violence and among them, the police unions are a relatively small cause.

                • JL

                  Why do you think the bosses are a bulwark against the problem rather than a substantial contributor to it?

                  Why do you think police or prison guard unionization precludes strong civilian oversight? They’re separate questions.

                • Anon21

                  if you are picking and choosing who gets the right to unionize, then who is to say which workers receive those rights? Because in the real world, it is going to be the prison guards who have the right to unionize and the teachers who do not. Actual reality is one where there are lots of forces that allow for police violence and among them, the police unions are a relatively small cause.

                  I don’t think it’s impossible to achieve a policy where law enforcement officers are banned from unionizing, while other categories of public employee have the right to unionize. Under current political conditions, sure, it’s impossible. But under current political conditions, there is no realistic way to reduce police violence against people of color anyway, and no one around here is accepting that as the status quo. These things go hand in hand, to me: as a society, we need to have a healthy distrust for state agents of violence, and a hatred for those agents when they repeatedly abuse their power. That distrust and hatred can support both reining in their abuses and reining in their labor rights as a means to destroying one of the bases of political support for state violence against marginalized people.

                  I don’t know how to apportion responsibility for police and guard abuse of force between individual sociopaths, bosses, unions, and societal racism. But I know that one area in which police unions play a really important role is in protecting individual officers who clearly cross the line, ensuring that they won’t face legal or employment consequences for their actions. Bosses in most industries are not averse to throwing non-unionized employees under the bus, and in the case of a murderer like Darren Wilson, a good throwing under the bus is just what’s in order.

                  Why do you think the bosses are a bulwark against the problem rather than a substantial contributor to it?

                  I never said bosses in the aggregate were a bulwark against police abuse, and I don’t think that. My point is that while in a vacuum, increasing workers’ power against their bosses is a good thing, police and prison guards don’t do their jobs in a vacuum. When a union allows them to both increase their power against bosses and increase their power over civilians and prisoners, the good done by the former is outweighed by the evil done by the latter.

                  Why do you think police or prison guard unionization precludes strong civilian oversight? They’re separate questions.

                  They’re not particularly separate. Police unions stand shoulder-to-shoulder with police administrators in opposing reforms like Civilian Review Boards; the unions don’t want their members subjected to investigation and critique by outsiders over whom they have little leverage.

                  Prison guard unions have been known to fight correctional administrators and politicians to increase the use of solitary confinement and loosen constraints on guards’ use of force in those rare cases when the “bosses” are forced by political pressure to mitigate the abuses inflicted on prisoners. Unions view it as a matter of safety for their members, but it is costing prisoners their health and lives.

                • joe from Lowell

                  So police shouldn’t have unions or bargaining rights because you think it’s good to hate police.

                  What a wonderful standard for public policy and labor issues.

                • Anon21

                  Police shouldn’t have unions or collective bargaining rights because they use those tools to increase their capacity to inflict violence on marginalized people and to avoid consequences for inflicting violence on marginalized people.

                • So you get to approve who has collective bargaining rights based upon your own moral code? If that is applied nationally, there is no union movement at all.

                • Anon21

                  First, I would hope it’s not just a precept of my moral code that the way police and prison guards in this country act towards marginalized people is evil.

                  Second, as above, I think there is a strong and durable principle here that justifies banning police and prison guards from unionizing while protecting the right of other categories of public employee to unionize. If you are authorized by the state to inflict violence, one key collective interest you share with your fellow workers is to reduce constraints on your use of force and to reduce or eliminate consequences for abusing force. That collective interest is so dangerous to society, particularly marginalized people in society, that you are barred from pursuing that interest in certain highly effective ways. (I mean, if there’s a way to bar police unions from pursuing their collective interest in making it easier to deploy state violence against marginalized people while leaving the unions free to pursue collective interests such as higher wages and reasonable work hours, that’s fine by me. In practice, any police union that actually represents its members would leverage its right to bargain about certain conditions of employment to make it easier for their members to use and abuse force free of consequences.)

                • joe from Lowell

                  First, I would hope it’s not just a precept of my moral code that the way police and prison guards in this country act towards marginalized people is evil.

                  Let’s call that “Plan A…”

                  But, seriously, if we start using this standard for who gets bargaining rights, do you really think that your moral/ideological code is going to be controlling? A hack judge in California just ruled that teacher tenure violates students’ civil rights. There is a big, powerful movement out there that is every bit as offended, morally and ideologically, by what the teachers unions advocated for, as we are by the militarization of police.
                  Who do you think has the bigger gang? Wanna bet collective bargaining for teachers on it? Your “strong and durable principle” would be very popular in the Daily Kos diaries, for what that’s worth.

                  It sucks, in a democracy, having to recognize the other side’s political rights. Sometimes it means standing by while people are complete and utter assholes. The only advantage is, the people who think we’re the assholes have to stand by, too.

                • Anon21

                  It sucks, in a democracy, having to recognize the other side’s political rights. Sometimes it means standing by while people are complete and utter assholes. The only advantage is, the people who think we’re the assholes have to stand by, too.

                  Oh, are they standing by? I must have missed that. These counterarguments of “If we do it the cops, they’ll do it to teachers” would be a lot more convincing if they weren’t, y’know, already doing it to teachers. Plutocrats have never respected public employees’ rights to collectively bargain, so I have a really hard time seeing how letting police and prison guard unions advocate for punitive solitary confinement and protect murderer cops is going to save American public sector unionism.

                  What I’m advocating here is a policy change. I’ve described the limits of that policy change and the principle that I think supports those limits. Obviously, police officers are in no danger of losing their right to form unions because of anything I say, but I’m waiting for anyone to explain why my proposed policy or the principle behind it is a bad one.

                  (Side note: “standing by” sounds a lot better as an option to deal with “people being assholes” than it does as a response to “cops shooting unarmed kids, then walking away without so much as a formal reprimand” or “prison guards throwing mentally ill inmates into concrete boxes where they will lose all contact with reality due to lack of social contact.” There are actually higher political and moral principles than the right to collectively bargain, and protecting people from state violence is one of them.)

                • joe from Lowell

                  And so, Mr. Unionist, your answer to the erosion to collective bargaining rights is to help the process along? Give up on them, as sacrifice worth making?

                  The cost of your crusade against the police keeps going up.

                  I’m waiting for anyone to explain why my proposed policy or the principle behind it is a bad one.

                  One of the great things about the internet is that you can remain unconvinced no matter what, if you’re really determined.

                • joe from Lowell

                  There are actually higher political and moral principles than the right to collectively bargain, and protecting people from state violence is one of them.

                  You’re surrendering an awful lot of collective bargaining (your “I swear to God this won’t harm any other unions” certainty notwithstanding) in exchange for a very uncertain reduction of police violence.

                • Hogan

                  letting police and prison guard unions advocate for punitive solitary confinement and protect murderer cops

                  Wait, you think banning collective bargaining is going to keep that from happening? Because obviously police and prison guards couldn’t form private advocacy organizations that weren’t unions?

                • Anon21

                  a very uncertain reduction of police violence.

                  Since we aren’t getting anywhere on whether or not this would somehow imperil the foundations of public sector unionism, let’s dig in on this. How is it uncertain? Is it not the case that police unions provide counsel, advice, and public relations assistance in keeping cops who abuse their power out of jail and on the force? Does it not seem extremely likely that, all else equal, bosses would be happy to throw some fraction of killer cops and rapist prison guards to the dogs, if not for unions protecting their members? Is it not the case that in places like Maine and New York City, where politicians have pushed to reduce the use of punitive solitary confinement, they have found prison guards’ unions to be their primary opponents? Was the correctional officers’ union in California not a major financial contributor to the “yes” campaign for the ballot initiative that created the “three strikes” life sentence system for non-violent offenders?

                  If all that is true, how do you figure that it’s “uncertain” if abolishing police and correctional officers’ unions would result in a reduction of state violence against marginalized people? The only way I can see that that makes sense is to assume that law enforcement officers would be equally effective at pursuing their collective interest in greater use of violence and less accountability for violence as non-unionized individuals. But I doubt either you or Erik believe that; you advocate public sector unionism because you think it’s effective at achieving workers’ goals. Well, law enforcement officers’ goals are not a mystery. We don’t have to speculate about what they’re up to. They are a major political force in this country for maintaining impunity for officers who break the law.

                  Wait, you think banning collective bargaining is going to keep that from happening? Because obviously police and prison guards couldn’t form private advocacy organizations that weren’t unions?

                  I think it would be far less effective. These private advocacy organizations wouldn’t have access to members’ dues to lobby politicians and buy political ads. They could not threaten to derail the reauthorization of the collective bargaining agreement if their demands on solitary confinement or use of force guidelines weren’t met. This is the whole point of unionism, right? Unions are more effective than voluntary outside advocacy groups at protecting their members’ interests.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  I think you have something of a point but how much do police unions impede civil liberties vs general societal racism and authoritarianism? I know the police unions have come out to defend cops accused of heinous things, but I tend to think that even if they weren’t there a lot of bigots would support cops on the GP. Look at how much support the Ferguson cop is getting from bigoted trolls. They’ve fabricated multiple memes now to try and frame him as an innocent defender of white virtue against the scary black horde.

                • shah8

                  Okay wait just minute. Have not the US already ordered the end of various unions for corruption or otherwise for public safety?

      • liberal

        I can’t imagine he would be okay describing things this way if he was talking about corporate officers at a company, “we’re just representing the interests of our shareholders here…”.

        This.

        • Of course, in a capitalist society, that’s exactly what corporate officers are supposed to be doing.

          • Jordan

            I think some commenters are kinda confused about the “thats OK” bit.

            What I took you to mean is something kinda like: look, this is what they are supposed to be doing given how everything works right now. And, as JfL points out, there is certainly something to be said for a pluralistic society where disparate groups advocate for their own interests.

            What I think commenters are taking from it is something like: “and so thats just groovy” or whatever.

            Or something like that.

            • ThrottleJockey

              That’s how I took it. In a system different players have different roles and its the overall system that supposed to work toward fairness not, necessarily, one individual player. As a practical matter how would you even decide which group (workers, shareholders, management, citizens, minorities, etc) should be able to organize and agitate? Which is why in a pluralistic society everyone has to have the ability to organize and agitate.

    • joe from Lowell

      So as long as its someone’s job to advocate something, it makes whatever they are advocating ok? They are morally exempt from considering the societal effect of their actions?

      What do you think about defense attorneys?

      Ted Bundy: Not OK. Ted Bundy’s attorney providing him with a vigorous defense? OK. Mandatory, actually.

      • liberal

        But except in the role of public defender or otherwise as a court appointed attorney, you don’t have to contract to defend any particular client. Doing so is obviously itself an act of agency and hence open to moral questioning.

        • Jordan

          But that doesn’t get it right. Presumably these union officers could take different jobs or whatever (just as defense attorneys could take different clients). But there still will be some union officers advocating for their members, and there will be some defense attorneys for their clients.

          I mean, sure, its open for moral questioning. But that is exactly what Loomis is doing in this post.

      • DocAmazing

        Actually, that’s an interesting question, as defense attorneys do not have the right to unionize, not even public defenders. Neither do physicians. A number of professions are prohibited from forming unions–and the Bar is not a union, and the AMA is not a union.

        I don’t begrudge police and prison guards the right to form a union–I encourage it. However, I do feel there is a need for a certifying body for law enforcement and corrections officers, similar to the Bar or the state medical boards.

        • ThrottleJockey

          and the Bar is not a union, and the AMA is not a union

          Ummm, ok. If my ‘union’ you don’t include the political lobbying and fundraising activities that unions also do. In that case I suppose “cartel” is a better word.

          Hell, it was the AMA who drafted Ronald Reagan to vilify Medicaid!!

          • DocAmazing

            That would be a lobbying organization. If physicians try to bargain collectively, we get prosecuted for restraint of trade. It has happened before.

      • UserGoogol

        I don’t think democratic representatives (be it workplace democracy or the regular kind) are really analogous to legal representatives. With defense attorneys, they’re defending one person with one very specific goal in mind. At the other end of the spectrum, politicians represent a diverse group of people with a diverse set of goals, so all they can do is do what they think is right subject to the constraint that they need to be representative enough to win elections. (As well as many other constraints inherent in the political system.) Labor is somewhat in between, since union members have more in common than citizens in general and unions are by definition somewhat limited to labor-related issues. They have to be somewhat representative of their members, but they aren’t obligated to support every bad idea the workers might want.

        Still, if a majority of police officers strongly and passionately want something, then there’s not a whole lot even the most progressive police union leader can do about that. The slow boring of hard boards etc.

  • Joseph Slater

    The IUPA is probably more “progressive” on more issues than than much larger police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, and that’s probably because IUPA is affiliated with the AFL-CIO and the FOP isn’t.

    • ThrottleJockey

      Always thought FOP should be abbreviated “FAP”…and if anyone should they should fap off…until they go blind.

      • Lee Rudolph

        FAP would be the Fraternal Ardor of Police, then?

  • shah8

    I don’t agree with how Anon21 put it, but I do think he has a point somewhere…

    Effectively, the union is lobbying to exempt its members from criminal and civil penalties for the injury of others. No matter how you shake and bake that, I don’t believe you just can go “it all evens out in the wash”. We aren’t talking about different interpretations about safety standards or whether all members should contribute extra money to pensions or do off-time labor. We’re talking about people who advocate immunity for criminal acts. Because yeah, we do that for diplomatic people, but right then they stop being diplomats and sent home. Where’s the part where we force cops to stop being cops, let alone being jailed? Any organization with such ideals in their policy platforms are pernicious to the general social order, and US society typically doesn’t permit such groups to function. I don’t agree with Anon21 that the nature of unions embed or drive such policy aims–their bosses and local societal elites do. However, the earlier analogy of the KKK is not as distant or as silly as I’d like. I don’t know how to refine my thinking further, though.

    • Jordan

      I mean, some of this makes sense to me, but what does it have to do with the currently existing police unions?

      • shah8

        *sigh*, I know you’re just trolling me, but just in case not…read the link in OP. The IUPA specifically constructs around the concept that there is never enough weaponry for its members. The implication is that weapons are meant to be used during the course of their “duties” and at the discretion of its members. That society should find qualms about whether this is too much power is described as detached from the real world at hand to individual police officers who are, of course, dealing with society’s problems. The idea of the police being dishonorable is blasted and concern for citizen rights dismissed.

        • Jordan

          Well … I’m not. I’m responding to things like:

          “Where’s the part where we force cops to stop being cops, let alone being jailed? Any organization with such ideals in their policy platforms are pernicious to the general social order, and US society typically doesn’t permit such groups to function.”

          What does that even mean, and what does it have to do with actually existing police unions? Maybe it does have something to do with them! But, to put it politely, its not clear at all from what you wrote.

          For the rest of your reply … I mean, I guess. Again, its hard to see how what you are saying ties in to police unions.

  • Joseph Slater

    As someone who has paid a lot of attention to this area over the past few decades, a few observations.

    (1) As Hogan at least implied, barring collective bargaining for police would not get rid of police unions or police union political activity. There is a First Amendment right for police officers (and most other public employees) to form unions and act as political advocates. Indeed, in states which don’t permit police to bargain collectively (and there are a number of those, because the First Amendment right to organize into unions does not extend to a right to bargain collectively), police unions still do lobby, often effectively.

    (2) Speaking of the fact that a number of states do not permit police to organize, opponents of police collective bargaining might want to produce some evidence that police behavior, either on the ground or in politics, is “worse” (by their standards) in states that permit collective bargaining than in states that don’t permit collective bargaining: e.g., that the police in South Carolina and Virginia (where collective bargaining is prohibited) are doing better (by the lights of critics) than the police in Iowa and New Hampshire (where the police have collective bargaining rights). I’m not sure such a case could be made, but if you want to take away collective bargaining rights, you should be able to show how things are better where such rights don’t exist.

    (3) The concern that police oppose, say, civilian review boards is addressed in public-sector labor law by consistent rules that limit the scope of bargaining for police about such issues. Public-sector labor laws routinely prohibit police unions from bargaining over civilian review boards, use-of-deadly-force rules, and similar policies that clearly affect the public interest. For example, there is a big case out of California on use-of-deadly-force policies squarely holding that police unions can’t negotiate about that topic.

    (4) As others have said, critics of police unions seem to put a lot of faith in police management, which seems oddly misplaced in the context of “use of force” issues. It’s also oddly misplaced in the context of basic worker-rights issues, such as unjust discipline, abuse of overtime, and other basic workers-rights issues.

    Bottom line / tl;dnr version: cops have interests *as workers* but society has an interest in restraints on the use of force by officers of the state. Collective-bargaining laws balance these interests by limiting what topics police can bargain about. Also, though, eliminating collective bargaining rights will not eliminate the rights of police officers to form unions and lobby for their goals.

  • Joseph Slater

    Oops, first sentence in (2) should say, “Speaking of the fact that a number of states do not permit police to BARGAIN COLLECTIVELY. . . “

  • Joseph Slater

    Apologies for the multiple consecutive posts, but one other point worth mentioning. Per Missouri state law, police unions in that state do *not* have the sorts of collective bargaining rights that police unions in most other states enjoy. So the problems in Ferguson — from over-militarization to plain old excessive force — are not attributable to union collective bargain rights.

  • Pingback: More of Police Unionism and Police Militarization - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money()

It is main inner container footer text