Material for research on police unions

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What’s the Matter With Police Unions

Eric M. Fink

Associate Professor, Elon Law School

Police unions have come under increased scrutiny and criticism, fueled by concerns about excessive use of force and other police misconduct. Critics, including some within the labor movement itself (as illustrated by the statement, “Denouncing Police Unions”, issued by UAW Local 2865), view police unions not as part of a labor movement seeking to advance working class interests, but rather as complicit in repressive state practices that perpetuate oppression along class, race, and other lines.

Like other unions, police unions serve multiple functions for their members: as collective bargaining agents, as advocacy organizations, as service providers, and as voluntary social associations. Police unions might contribute to the problem of police violence and other misconduct in each of these capacities:

This project focuses on the role of police unions as collective bargaining agents. Using data for police departments in the 100 largest U.S. cities, the analysis tests the association between police collective bargaining agreements and police violence.