Labor & Employment Law Daily ON THE LABOR FRONT—Addressing calls for reform of police unions
Wednesday, July 1, 2020

ON THE LABOR FRONT—Addressing calls for reform of police unions

By Michael J. Soltis, J.D.

America needs strong labor unions. But can a labor union be too strong?

Calls for “reform” of police unions are coming from just about every constituency within the labor movement—unions, supportive politicians, and typically labor-friendly publications.

The tragic killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer has prompted this reevaluation. The argument is that police unions have become so strong that it is difficult, near impossible some might say, to discharge police officers and hold them personally accountable for their serious misconduct in the line of duty. By defending officers accused of heinous acts, and often prevailing, police unions are responsible for the reinstatement of “bad cops” who go on to commit more heinous acts, the argument goes.

How did we get to the point where police unions have such power that even some of their brethren and long-time supporters believe they are too powerful, that they wield that power like a “cudgel” so that “no one is safe,” and that power has made racist killings “more likely and more frequent”? Our elected leaders agreed to the terms of the labor contract that give the police unions the power they have, notes Michael Soltis in his latest installment of “On the Labor Front—Addressing calls for reform of police unions.”

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