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UNIONISM COMES TO POLICING (FROM POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY PERFORMANCE MEASURES AND UNIONISM, 1978, BY RICHARD C LARSON - SEE NCJ-48126)

NCJ Number
48128
Author(s)
R M FOGELSON
Date Published
1978
Length
21 pages
Annotation
THE HISTORY OF THE U.S. POLICE MOVEMENT FROM ABOUT 1900 IS TRACED, ALONG WITH ITS CAUSES, SETBACKS, AND CONFLICTS WITH POLICE AUTHORITIES.
Abstract
THE FIRST CAMPAIGN TO ORGANIZE THE POLICE INTO UNIONS STARTED SHORTLY AFTER WORLD WAR 1, WHEN THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR ISSUED CHARTERS TO POLICE UNIONS IN 30 CITIES. MANY POLICE CHIEFS CONDEMNED THE MOVE, ARGUING THAT UNIONISM WAS INCOMPATIBLE WITH POLICING, WHICH IS A SEMIMILITARY PURSUIT. HOWEVER, POLICE SALARIES WERE NOT KEEPING PACE WITH THE COUNTRY'S INFLATION RATE, AND POLICEMEN WERE RESENTFUL OF THE POLICE CHIEFS' INEFFECTIVENESS IN SECURING RAISES. CITIZENS AND OFFICIALS FEARED THE UNIONS BECAUSE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF A STRIKE, AND POLICEMEN WERE FORBIDDEN TO JOIN THEM. BY 1920, ALL OF THE POLICE UNIONS WERE DEFUNCT. THE SECOND CAMPAIGN TO UNIONIZE OCCURRED DURING WORLD WAR II, WHEN POLICE OFFICERS FOUND THAT BECAUSE OF A WARTIME SURGE IN EMPLOYMENT AND RISE IN PRICES THEIR POSITION WAS DETERIORATING IN RELATION TO THAT OF OTHER WORKERS. THE UNIONS WERE AGAIN BANNED, OFFICERS WHO JOINED WERE DISMISSED, AND BY THE END OF WORLD WAR II, ALL HAD DISBANDED. THESE UNIONS WERE, HOWEVER, SURVIVED BY A LARGE NUMBER OF BENEVOLENT AND FRATERNAL ORGANIZATIONS. THESE GROUPS, IN ADDITION TO LOOKING OUT FOR THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF THEIR MEMBERS, ALSO CARRIED THE RANK AND FILE'S DEMANDS TO THE AUTHORITIES AND EVEN TO THE VOTERS. IN ADDITION TO THE LOW PAY, LONG HOURS, POOR WORKING CONDITIONS, AND AMOUNT OF PAPERWORK AND REGULATIONS WHICH OFFICERS HAD COMPLAINED OF IN THE 1940'S AND EARLY 1950'S, THE BLACK GHETTO RIOTS OF THE EARLY 1960'S OUTRAGED POLICEMEN. OUTSIDE OF BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATIONS, WHICH LACKED OFFICIAL RECOGNITION, THE RANK AND FILE HAD LITTLE HOPE OF OBTAINING THEIR DEMANDS. FINALLY, HOWEVER, BY THE MID-1960'S THE BENEVOLENT ORGANIZATIONS HAD GOTTEN NEW LEADERSHIP, WHO SAW THAT IN ORDER TO RETAIN POWER THEY HAD TO WIN FOR THE POLICEMEN THE SAME RIGHTS TO UNIONIZE THAT HAD RECENTLY BEEN GRANTED OTHER MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES. THESE LEADERS, UNLIKE THEIR PREDECESSORS, WERE WILLING TO ENGAGE IN STRIKES AND OTHER ILLEGAL JOB ACTIONS TO WIN THEIR DEMANDS. BY THE LATE 1960'S, MANY ELECTED OFFICIALS RECOGNIZED THAT POLICE OFFICERS WERE TAKING A MORE MILITANT STANCE, AND SAW THAT IT COULD BE HAZARDOUS TO OPPOSE THEM. THE RIGHT TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AND OTHER DEMANDS WERE GRANTED TO MANY ORGANIZATIONS IN RETURN FOR THEIR SUPPORT OF CHANGES THAT WOULD ENHANCE THE EFFICIENCY OF THE POLICE FORCE (AND REFLECT WELL ON THE ELECTED OFFICIAL). BY THE EARLY 1970'S, THE FRATERNAL AND BENEVOLENT ORGANIZATIONS HAD IN EFFECT BEEN TRANSFORMED FROM PRESSURE GROUPS INTO LABOR UNIONS. AFTER A LONG STRUGGLE, THE UNIONS FINALLY GAINED THE RECOGNITION OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE, WHO CONCLUDED THAT THEY WERE INEVITABLE AND POSSIBLY EVEN DESIRABLE. (VDA)