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#Democrats walk fine line between reforms and angering police unions

#Democrats walk fine line between reforms and angering police unions

June 10, 2020 | 2:45pm

Democrats, walking a fine political line between their efforts to overhaul policing after George Floyd’s death and their support for public sector unions, shelved a bill that would bolster the ability of police to unionize, a report on Wednesday said.

The bill, introduced in 2019, would allow all state and local public safety employees – including police – to enter into collective bargaining for wages, hours and other conditions of employment, Axios reported.

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.)and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) introduced the legislation that had 225 co-sponsors, the majority of whom were Democrats, including Rep. Karen Bass, who heads up the Congressional Black Caucus.

But many of those same Democrats also co-sponsored the “Justice in Policing Act” that was introduced in the House on Monday.

The measure hasn’t been endorsed or opposed by major police unions.

The Democratic-backed bill would ban chokeholds and limit qualified immunity for police officers that protects them from legal or civil action.

A senior Democratic aide that the issue is a tough pill to swallow for police unions.

The White House opposes it.

A spokesman told Axios that Kildee is a “strong supporter” of the policing legislation and has asked House Democratic leaders not to bring up the union bill because of “valid concerns” with how it “could potentially contribute to acts of police brutality.”

While advocates of police reform have called for bad officers to be disciplined, the head of the Minneapolis police union, Bob Kroll, said last week that he would fight the firings of the four officers involved in Floyds’ death, arguing that they were denied due process.

But an aide on the House Judiciary Committee said police unions have shown support for some of the proposals.

Rep. Dan Kildee
Rep. Dan KildeeCQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

Noting the politically charged atmosphere, another aide said Democrats’ support for unions has not changed.

“There’s always going to be unions that are opposed to big legislation,” the aide told Axios.

“That’s just fact … I don’t think Democrats are any less supportive of unions broadly. This is just what happens when you deal with issues related to a specific union.”

Republicans working on their own police reform legislation have the opposite problem.

The GOP often oppose public employee unions, but back police.

“Unions are gonna probably fight everything that we’re doing in general. And I think it’s just a point where that’s going to have to change so I’m hoping what we do do, ends up being a benefit to them in general so they don’t have to keep contending with all the issues that arise every time we have a situation like this,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) told Axios.

Meanwhile, top Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are trying to stifle growing efforts nationwide to “defund the police” — a battle cry by prominent progressives as well as protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

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