Chicago Sun-Times calls for police union contract to be rewritten


CHICAGO — The Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago area’s second largest newspaper, has called for the contract with the city’s police union to be rewritten.

The Sun-Times editorial board made the call in their Sunday editorial.

“There is a straight line from those collective bargaining agreements to misconduct by individual officers, who know there is little risk of their being called to account,” the board write. “Last year, a University of Chicago study found misconduct complaints — though not a large number — increased after a Florida court gave sheriff’s deputies the right to unionize.”

The board said the lack of accountability leads to everyday abuse.

How does police misconduct — the everyday forms of abuse — play out when a union contract subverts accountability?

We witnessed a brief but classic example on Monday night, on the 4600 block of North Broadway, when an officer — caught on video — pushed a man to the ground and struck him twice in the head with his fist. No official inquiry has established exactly what occurred, but we’ve seen this kind of quick beat-down time and again.

“We are seeing our loved ones and our neighbors — people we care about — constantly saying: ‘Why is no one doing anything about this?’ ” said Tanya Watkins, executive director of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, also known as SOUL. “Why are police officers back at work the next day after they have blackened a 14-year-old’s eye or hit a black grandmother with a bat?”

Most police officers do a hard job well. And we believe fully in the right of officers to collectively bargain for better salaries, benefits, job security and working conditions. The city’s largest police union has been working without a contract since June 30, 2017, nearly three years.

And, yes, it’s also only right for police unions to protect their members from false or exaggerated complaints, which are always a risk of the job.

The danger to society, however, comes when union contracts throw up absurd obstacles to civilian oversight.

“We have to hold police, not to lower standards of accountability, but to higher standards,” said state Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, who has introduced legislation to curb some abuses.

Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board