Collective bargaining protects police wrongdoing


By Delaney Freeman | Freedom Foundation

In the United States, no one is supposed to be above the law, including those tasked with enforcing it. But unfortunately, government unions in Washington are often able to handcuff local sheriffs attempting to discipline or terminate officers engaged in illegal conduct on the job.

Due to collective bargaining disciplinary provisions, police officers engaged in wrongdoing are able to evade consequences by appealing unsettled grievances to a third-party arbitrator. However, the use of binding arbitration to settle grievance disputes between police unions and sheriffs undermines law enforcement’s ability to maintain public trust.

Despite proof of misconduct, unaccountable arbitrators are returning officers to the line of duty nationwide, impairing the integrity and accountability of the agencies responsible for upholding society’s highest standards.

A Washington officer from the Centralia Police Department was fired in 2011 when investigations uncovered his habit of excessive Tasings, violating protocol and filing dishonest reports. But thanks to the intervention of the police union, the officer’s termination currently hangs in limbo before an arbitrator. If the decision favors the labor union, taxpayers could have to pay the re-employed officer $150,000 in retroactive compensation and $80,000 in legal fees.

at Freedom Foundation.