Posts Tagged ‘public employment’

New books roundup

Labor and employment roundup

Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights laws: time for reform

“I don’t understand how she [Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake] can continually say they’re not cooperating,” Michael E. Davey, an attorney for the police union, told The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday. “They are. They did. And they’re lucky they got those statements before I got involved.”

They’re lucky they got those statements before I got involved. That’s a little window into the adversarial relationship between the union representing six Baltimore officers under investigation and city officials charged with determining whether Freddie Gray’s fatal injuries in police custody might have been caused by foul play such as an unbelted “rough ride” in the back of a police van.

Newsweek, and before that the Foundation for Economic Education, have now reprinted a short Cato at Liberty piece in which I describe the operation of Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights (LEOBR or LEOBoR) laws, of which Maryland passed the first in the early 1970s, and which have spread to more than a dozen states; in many other localities union contract provisions accomplish some of the same goals. These laws sharply restrain how police forces can pursue misconduct investigations against suspected officers, and officials in Baltimore and elsewhere have repeatedly cited the law as an impediment to investigations of officer misconduct long predating the Freddie Gray incident, including the probe into the enormous scandal of employee misconduct at the state-run Baltimore jail. (I’ve got more at Free State Notes about the local Maryland angle, including the failure of efforts this year in the state legislature to reform the law.)

Radley Balko followed up with a post summarizing my argument and adding an important point, which is that these laws can provide a covert way for departments to sabotage investigations so as to help out fellow officers, by introducing seemingly inadvertent errors that ensure that charges will later have to be thrown out.

In my opinion, conservatives should no more defend LEOBRs than they should defend teacher tenure laws, and for much the same reasons. In response to rising criticism, which has intensified since Gray’s death in custody, police unions have begun a broad effort to shore up support for the laws. The version of my article at FEE, for example, drew a response from a Montgomery County Fraternal Order of Police official which you can read here together with my response.

One oft-heard claim that these laws merely give suspected cops the same rights as other suspected citizens. Don’t miss Ken White’s new post at Popehat blowing that argument to smithereens. Equally laughable is the suggestion from union brass that the laws merely put into effect Fifth Amendment or other constitutional rights. While a few cases from the Warren Court era did invent new constitutional constraints on public agencies’ handling of employee investigations, LEOBR laws go far beyond anything in those cases.

Further reading and listening: Ed Krayewski, Reason; Kojo Nnamdi show; New York Times “Room for Debate” roundtable with Prof. Paul Butler, my friend and former Manhattan Institute colleague Heather Mac Donald (the middle-of-the-roader, in this context) and FOP’s Chuck Canterbury. See also my coverage of correctional officers “bill of rights” laws in Maryland, Pennsylvania, etc. here, here, here, and here.

“Short Circuits” on transit police arbitration

Our friends at the Institute for Justice have recently gone public with a beta version of what had been an internal newsletter, called Short Circuits, providing condensed (and sometimes acidulous) summaries of cases out of the federal courts of appeals. You can subscribe here. One of recent interest:

WMATA, a transit agency that serves the greater D.C. area, fires two police officers. (One allegedly struck a passenger and lied about it. The other allegedly altercated with a companion and lied about it.) Arbitrators order the pair reinstated, but by then their Maryland certification has lapsed, and, after the transit police chief voices strenuous opposition to their recertification, Maryland commissioners refuse to recertify the two. WMATA can’t have uncertified officers, so they are fired again. 4th Circuit: Which is cool.

Labor and employment roundup

  • Loosen constraints on local and state deviation from the NLRA labor law model? Idea gathering force on right also draws some interest from left [Ben Sachs, On Labor, on James Sherk/Andrew Kloster proposal for right to work laws at city/county level]
  • Justice Alito dissents from Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari in Kalamazoo “employee buyer’s regret” case where asked-for transfer was later construed as retaliation [Jon Hyman]
  • NLRB’s franchise power grab could prove costly to small business [Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Connor Wolf]
  • A very different country: Supreme Court of Canada constitutionalizes a right of public employees to strike [On Labor]
  • Average full-time California municipal employee got 2013 compensation package of nearly $121,000 [Steven Greenhut]
  • Perfect, now let’s mandate sick day banking nationwide: “Montgomery [County] fire department has history of sick-day abuse among workers due to retire” [Washington Post]
  • Yet more unilateralism: Obama administration tightens regs on federal contractor sex discrimination [Roger Clegg]

Conservatives and police unions

Reihan Salam, Slate, in December:

The chief resistance to greater transparency [in local law enforcement] comes from police unions. Conservatives, who’ve long been critical of public sector unions for imposing rigid work rules and contributing to soaring compensation costs, should have no qualms about calling for their abolition. When teachers unions fight tooth and nail on behalf of teachers accused of misconduct, it’s a problem. When police unions do the same on behalf of police officers accused of endangering the lives of civilians, and in some cases killing them, it’s a very big problem indeed. Republicans are often wary of curbing the collective bargaining rights of public safety employees, due to their political influence and their conservative sympathies. That has to change.

Public employment roundup

  • Cute: Outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Patrick shifts 500 managers to union status, now incoming GOP successor can’t touch ’em [Fox Boston]
  • Despite opposition from police union, Montgomery County, Md. eventually managed to correct disability scam [Washington Post editorial, Ed Krayewski]
  • “Retired CUNY professor gets $560K a year pension” [New York Post]
  • “L.A. Cannot Afford Budget Busting Labor Agreements” [Jack Humphreville, CityWatch L.A.] Major changes needed to Nevada public collective bargaining laws [Las Vegas Review-Journal] “States And Cities Coming To Grips With Economic Reality” [Brett Joshpe, Forbes]
  • “Public-Sector Unions and Government Policy: Reexamining the Effects of Political Contributions and Collective Bargaining Rights” [George Crowley/Scott Beaulier, Mercatus, PDF]
  • “Newark forced to rehire tenured teacher despite new state law” [NJ.com]
  • Time Magazine says not-especially-controversial things about tenure system, gets attacked by teachers unions [Weekly Standard] Throwing their money and influence around in elections [RiShawn Biddle on Democracy Alliance, same on AFT]