When Governor Scott Walker introduced Act 10 to control public employee union costs in 2011, one group of public employee unions was conspicuously omitted, the police. At the time, Walker did not want to take the risk that the police would walk off the job. Given the protests and the illegal job actions by the state’s teachers, Walker’s decision was understandable.
But aside from the cost issue of police benefits, not including the police unions may have resulted in the continued shielding of bad police officers from disciplinary action, including termination. Will Flanders and Cori Petersen, in an op-ed for the Capital Times, make the case that it’s time to end that special exemption for police unions.
“Under the Milwaukee Police Union contract, officers accused of misconduct can only be interrogated during certain hours of the day, leaving time to get the story straight,” they wrote. “A lengthy process is set up to arbitrate disputes when department rules are broken, potentially delaying the removal of bad actors and discouraging superior officers from taking needed actions.”
During the 2012 recall election, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he supported including police unions in Act 10. Democrats and Republicans could come together on this, but that would involve talking to each other.
It would also involve Wisconsin Republicans taking on one of their constituent special interests, and it would force Democrats to admit curbing the power of public employee unions was the right policy in 2011.
Applying Act 10 to police unions is the right policy, but it’s in neither party’s political interest. We’re betting the policy change has no chance but we hope to be surprised.
This first appeared in the RightWisconsin Update newsletter on June 15. You can subscribe here.