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Law Enforcement Agencies And Their Labor Unions

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  • Law Enforcement Agencies And Their Labor Unions

    I have been a member of a labor union representing the membership, but I have never aspired to be a steward. I am just curious, for those at somewhat larger agencies, say 100 plus, is being an active member of your union risky? I have just seen some locally that are very visibly critical of the Chief on local news media. I can't imagine that they would ever advance in their career after doing that.

  • #2
    I think you answered your own question. But bashing the chief in public. That has to be a last chance political move. But you play that card at your own risk.

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    • #3
      Chief bashing is a job for the POA President and not the Steward. A good POA President knows how to apply the heat tactfully without starting a war.
      Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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      • #4
        5,000 member agency and everyone here is a union member, some are active some aren’t. I wouldn’t say being active in the union is risky but I think doing everything the union says can be. For example if you’re the guy who is always filing a grievance for this or that, you may have a target on your back so to speak. But if you call the union for a legitimate issue I don’t think it’s really a problem.

        Most of the union leadership here is guys with time on, so I think they’re pretty set in their career paths. If you’re 25 year patrol guy or sergeant who never plans on taking the lieutenant’s test, they can’t really touch you. If you’re a mid-career guy with aspirations or you just don’t want the hassle, I wouldn’t get too involved.
        I make my living on Irish welfare.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Jim1648 View Post
          I have been a member of a labor union representing the membership, but I have never aspired to be a steward. I am just curious, for those at somewhat larger agencies, say 100 plus, is being an active member of your union risky? I have just seen some locally that are very visibly critical of the Chief on local news media. I can't imagine that they would ever advance in their career after doing that.
          It’s always risky, regardless of the size of your agency. Much depends on the relationship and leadership styles of both your Chief or Sheriff and the Union President. Most of the time, relations are good even when issues are pushed.

          Going to the press means there is war. No two ways around it. Votes of no confidence mean your union’s relationship with your agency’s leader is probably beyond repair. But even in times of war, most Agency administrators can see who does what. So, not all is lost. Now, it doesn’t sound like your Agency is in an all out civil war. There is no recovering from those. Either the boss goes or your union leaders go.

          Overall, becoming a steward should not greatly impact your career.
          semper destravit

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Jim1648 View Post
            I have been a member of a labor union representing the membership, but I have never aspired to be a steward. I am just curious, for those at somewhat larger agencies, say 100 plus, is being an active member of your union risky? I have just seen some locally that are very visibly critical of the Chief on local news media. I can't imagine that they would ever advance in their career after doing that.
            Statewide LEO agency with around 5000 members

            I was a steward / executive board member for many years prior to being promoted to Lieutenant.........My boss had a habit of promoting union officers due to knowing how they were proven leaders.. He had worked closely with us in union matters and like what he saw in MOST of us.....................needless to say the jerks on the union board didn't get promoted

            Trust me in that our management at the STATE level was extremely anti-union...........
            Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

            My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

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            • #7
              I am the chief steward at my station. I have gone through several station chiefs at my station and several Sector chiefs within the agency. My experience its been very contentious at times. The guy who trained me said if you are representing the membership correctly, you are committing career suicide and there was a lot of truth to that. Its not like this at all of the stations in my area but my particular station has always been a problem due to it being a dumping ground for bad management so its been a hard ride. Suffice to say, many members of management are not very fond of me because I make sure the collective bargaining agreement & all favorable past practices are followed to a T, and that officer safety does not take a back seat to anything.

              Other stations in my area run much more efficiently without the drama when management and the union work together so it does not have to be contentious. And I've also seen chief stewards at other stations in my agency use their union position to give away members rights to management for a promotion, so it can work both ways career wise. I never wanted to promote so it was never an issue for me and that freedom has served me well as a chief steward. I got into it because I wanted to make my job safer for the membership and see that our rights within the CBA were respected.

              And just to note, in my agency only journeyman staff have union rights. First level supervisors and above are considered management and not part of the bargaining unit. Unfortunately this often creates an us vs them mentality at times within the agency that is often counter productive, but it is what it is.
              Last edited by SHU; 01-17-2018, 02:21 AM.

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              • #8
                I think it must depend on the particular department. Retaliating against someone because of union involvement would be very risky business for a Chief in terms of lawsuits. I belong to both a state and local union, and the biggest draw from both of them for me is legal representation. The legal team has done exceedingly well in representing officers who were unfairly disciplined, and they've done well on some discrimination suits as well. None of these incidents have related to discrimination based on union membership, and I haven't heard of any such thing. Our union is very critical of the Chief when it's called for. Lately, though, our fight has been with the City Council and Mayor.

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                • #9
                  We have a fed employee union. I did not join.
                  USAF VETERAN 2004-2012
                  "The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day."-LTC Grossman
                  DA Civilian Police Officer, APG MD

                  Comment


                  • Curt5811
                    Curt5811 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I can not imagine doing this job without some sort of union / labor protection. You must work for a nice professional agency, with a reasonable, responsive person as agency head.

                  • J2H
                    J2H commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Dept of the Army. Normally if I don't agree with something I just let it go as it is above my paygrade. If I hate it too much I can always leave

                • #10
                  My agency is also union. 300 +/- line officers. The union also represents sergeants. Lts and above are non-rep.

                  Our relationship with management has been bad for over a decade. When I say "bad", I mean open warfare, negative news releases, a blizzard of grievances, numerous lawsuits, draconian discipline, you name it. The only way it could have been any worse would be if actual fist fights broke out. As a result, a particular member's union activity didn't mean very much. We were screwed whether we did it or not. Some union officials got promoted, some didn't. I don't have to tell you what kind of person moved up the ranks.

                  The promotions process drastically changed as well. We went from civil service style promotional exams for detectives, sergeants, lieutenants, and captains... to a 'resume' system for Lts and up... meaning the Boss (at the time) picked whoever he wanted. The detective rank is no longer a promotion, and is now just an assignment. The Boss tried to eliminate the sergeant exam as well, but we sued and he lost. He did an end-run and made all Sgt promotions temporary appointments, so he thought he could ignore the test process and qualification list. That took a few years to hammer out and cost them huge money in legal fees.

                  We're now in the midst of a management transition, so we're in a 'wait and see' mode.
                  You can trust just about every officer you work with to risk their life to save yours, but don't ever leave your lunch in the breakroom refrigerator.

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                  • #11
                    We have one union (The Police Association Victoria) that represents all 15000 or so VicPol sworn members. There is a bit of posturing on occasion but I think relations between command and the Association are pretty amicable. The Association provides legal coverage and a few other benefits and runs campaigns about police resourcing, crime rates and our pay that usually seem to be fairly successful without being over the top.

                    If we take industrial action (work slow-downs, not writing tickets, not completing certain paperwork) in aid of getting our collective bargaining agreement signed off it is called 'protected industrial action' and has legal protections. It's also prohibited for employers to take adverse action against anyone based on their union activity or exercising workplace rights.

                    The last time there was a breakdown in relations between the Chief Commissioner and the Association was around 2006-2008 when the Association Secretary and the Chief pretty much hated each other and there was a lot of sniping going on in the media. It involved bullying allegations, suspensions and eventually an expensive civil suit.

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                    • #12
                      Originally posted by J2H View Post
                      We have a fed employee union. I did not join.
                      How do you get an attorney for an OIS without a Union/LDF?

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        We get JAG support
                        USAF VETERAN 2004-2012
                        "The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day."-LTC Grossman
                        DA Civilian Police Officer, APG MD

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                        • #14
                          Originally posted by J2H View Post
                          We get JAG support
                          I don't think I'd trust my liberties to be safeguarded by JAG. Some are good, the rest are so so.

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                          • J2H
                            J2H commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Nature of Army policing... I don't have much faith in the Army unions either, as they are not LE specific

                        • #15
                          Originally posted by scotty_appleton814 View Post

                          I don't think I'd trust my liberties to be safeguarded by JAG. Some are good, the rest are so so.
                          Also they represent the agencies interests first which may differ from the officers in a OIS that the media gets a hold of and turns it into a sh#tstorm. I would not leave my station without my porac LDF.
                          Last edited by SHU; 01-23-2018, 05:57 PM.

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                          • scotty_appleton814
                            scotty_appleton814 commented
                            Editing a comment
                            You hit the nail right on head there buddy.

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