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Mayors Trying to Bust Police Unions

A report from US Mayors Conference proposes overhaul to bargaining and due process rights

Brian Young's picture
Aug 14, 2020

After months of protests around police brutality, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has released a report attacking police union’s collective bargaining agreements.

In the report the Mayors’, who are led by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, said that cities needed to rethink collective bargaining agreements for police unions. While they didn’t go so far as to suggest that police should lose the right to bargain, they did suggest restricting bargaining.

“Cities should stop the practice of bargaining away management rights as a trade-off for raises sought by police unions. At the very least, CBAs must vest in the chiefs authority to hold officers accountable for following applicable law and policy.”

They also suggested that cities force into contracts, provisions that require police officers to cooperate in investigations, a potential threat to an officer’s due process rights. “Officers must have due process, but CBAs often contain provisions that go far beyond necessary protections and impede a department’s ability to investigate misconduct allegations and, in a timely fashion, hold officers accountable.”

Yet the whole point of due process is that the burden is on the accuser to prove the case. Why should the officer be forced to cooperate and potentially incriminate themselves? Instead, a strong collective bargaining agreement should lay out a fair disciplinary process and it should be a negotiated term that both sides can agree to, not a one-sided proposal.

Lightfoot, who is currently negotiating her city’s police union contract, said collective bargaining is “hiding results from the public.” Yet, Lightfoot knows this is false since disciplinary records from Chicago are available online.  She went on to tell WTTW that it is “fortunate” her city’s police have not had a collective bargaining agreement for the past three years. She is pushing for significant changes in the new deal. However, as UCOMM previously reported, the new police union President seems unlikely to cave to Lightfoot’s demands without serious pressure from within his union.

While reforms may be necessary to the way policing is done, going after police’s collective bargaining rights or restricting what they can bargain is not the way to do it. If a city or a state wants to make a change to the disciplinary process or to work rules, they must sit down with the union and take part in effects bargaining or wait until a new contract is bargained for. Every worker deserves a voice at work, whether you are a cop, a teacher, an electrical worker, or a tradesman.

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