Within the span of the next month, Gov. Scott Walker will likely sign a right to work bill. This legislation does not prohibit unions; however, it gives those employed in a union shop the ability to opt-out of paying union dues. Proponents of right to work say that compelling an employee to pay for a service they do not necessarily agree with is discriminatory. Opponents of the legislation argue that workers exempt from paying dues will reap union benefits absent any financial contributions.
Yesterday, I was asked how this legislation might affect law enforcement, particularly the Milwaukee Police Association — the union that represents the Milwaukee Police Department’s rank-and-file. Since the devil is in the details, and a work-up of the right to work bill has not been made public, it is difficult to say.
Nevertheless, police unions — the MPA being the most influential — provide a valuable service to law enforcement officers in Wisconsin. Just think of the ways a petty and vindictive police chief could harass and cajole officers who have fallen out of favor. Absent seniority, a veteran copper with twenty-four years on the job could suddenly — and without cause — be transferred from working days to the graveyard shift.
Absent union representation, officers involved in shootings or other uses of force would need to pony-up fifteen to twenty thousand dollars for an attorney to simply guide them through the rigors of an Internal Affairs investigation. Absent a contract with the rank-and-file, a chief-of-police could unilaterally determine an officer’s vacation picks. If a particular person — say, for example, the officer who had leaked information to the media regarding Chief Flynn’s suppression of a voting irregularities report — was in the chief’s dog house, he or she could be regulated to February and November vacations.
So, my advice to ALL officers is this: pay your union dues. Being a police officer is much different than working for the Clerk of Courts or laboring at a brewery. Sitting at a desk or attaching parts on an assembly line is a world away from performing shift work in areas that resemble war torn countries.
Vis-à-vis Act 10 and the cuts to the university system, Gov. Walker is attempting to de-fund the left. Public employee unions, particularly those representing public school teachers, are a huge source of Democratic Party capital. Likewise, ninety percent of the UW System’s professors lean far to the left and, by developing thinly veiled political ‘narratives,’ are happy to reeducate the young minds sent their way. After all, it is taxpayer dollars — the block grants to Saul Alinsky-like community organizations, the dues collected from the public education apparatus, and the grievance agenda of academia — that, to a large extent, fuel the secular progressive left.
Political agendas aside, rank-and-file coppers all over the country are under attack. Clearly, Scott Walker did not lead the protests in New York City that ended with shouts of, “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Now!” That crowd was affiliated with Al Sharpton, a man who has visited the White House on numerous occasions to consult with President Obama. Still, the governor’s signature on a right to work bill could negatively impact every law enforcement officer’s quality of life.
Thus, it is important to remember that the only thing separating rank-and-file coppers from a Christopher Manney-style railroading or from the secular progressive cop-haters is the MPA. As Benjamin Franklin said during the signing of the Declaration of Independence, those who find themselves in difficult circumstances need to “hang together” or they will “hang separately.”
Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.
If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.
© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2015