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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Democrats and Police Unions

Alayna Treene and Dan Primack at Axios:
Democrats are in a political bind. They want police reform, but as advocates of public sector unions, they've also been trying to help police unions — which have been some of the biggest obstacles to police reform.
Driving the news: The politics of police unions have gotten so difficult that House Democrats are shelving a bill, first introduced in 2019, that would strengthen the ability of police to unionize, Axios has learned.
That was then: The bill, H.R. 1154, would enable all state and local public safety employees — including police — to collectively bargain for wages, hours, and other conditions of employment.
  • It was introduced by Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), with a group of 225 other co-sponsors.
  • The vast majority of those co-sponsors were Democrats, including Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who leads the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).
This is now: Many of these same Democrats co-sponsored legislation introduced on Monday called the Justice in Policing Act, which has not yet been endorsed or opposed by major police unions.
  • The bill would, among other things, limit qualified immunity for police officers, which makes it practically impossible to sue them successfully. A senior Democratic aide says this issue remains a sticking point for police unions, and the White House has called it a nonstarter.
Kildee's spokesman says that he is a "strong supporter" of the Justice in Policing Act, and that he has asked House Democratic leadership to not bring his earlier bill up for a vote in its current form because of "valid concerns with how H.R. 1154 could potentially contribute to acts of police brutality."