The Illinois FOP Labor Council

The Labor Council provides full union representation: negotiating and enforcing contracts, improving salaries, working conditions, and benefits for law enforcement professionals throughout Illinois. Our members are protected 24 hours a day by a staff of full-time, in-house attorneys and field representatives who have a proven track record of winning.

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By David Wickster, Executive Director - Friday, December 4, 2015


The recent opinion piece by Tribune by Northwestern University’s Max Schanzenbach about law enforcement officers and collective bargaining agreements is troubling coming from a law professor. It ignores one of the most important tenets of our judicial system: the right of every American citizen to due process under the law.

This fundamental right, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, protects citizens from arbitrary and unjust arrest, conviction and imprisonment by those who may use these tools to further their political ambitions, including the mayors to whom Schanzenbach would give the power to fire and discipline cops at will.

A chief purpose of collective bargaining agreements is to ensure that employees who are accused of wrongdoing have a fair and legal means to plead their case. This makes it difficult to dismiss an employee in the same way that the entire judicial system makes it “difficult” to try a criminal case; it forces decisions to be made on evidence, rather than on the whim of those in power.

Suggesting that collective bargaining promotes rogue policing is the same as saying that the rise in crime is directly proportionate to the number of defense attorneys being produced by the nation’s law schools. Exercising one’s legal rights does not produce a nation of protected wrongdoers.

Make no mistake, law enforcement unions believe that “bad apples” need to be removed. But we also have the legal and moral obligation to ensure that due process is followed. This is especially important in one of the nation’s most difficult and dangerous professions.

Most important, collective bargaining has helped the men and women of law enforcement to concentrate on protecting the legal rights of all citizens, rather than worrying which political boss may be putting a knife in their backs.

— David Wickster, executive director, Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, Western Springs