Police Abuse

Rahm Emanuel's—and Chicago's—Public-Sector Union Problems

The same groups that give big-city Democrats political power make it nearly impossible to reform bad practices.


In his Sunday USA Today column, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit and University of Tennessee Law School channels Walter Russell Mead, who has noted that public-sector unions simultaneously provide big-city Democrats with patronage-fueled political power and make it next to impossible to reform things when problems (inevitably) arise.

This is especially true in Chicago, writes Reynolds, where embattled Mayor Rahm Emanuel is drowning between a rock and a hard place as financial woes and police-abuse scandals mount.

As in most large, Democratic cities, the police and other city workers are unionized and, effectively, almost impossible to fire. As Mead notes, "There is a harsh conflict of interest between the city's employees and the city's voters. … It is in the interests of public sector unions to shelter employees from oversight and threats to their job security, regardless of how well they perform."

And, also like most large blue jurisdictions (and some red ones), Chicago is in financial trouble, not least because of the high pensions secured by those unionized workers, pensions that the city can't really afford to pay. In May, Moody's downgraded Chicago's credit rating to "junk," with a negative outlook, based on this and other problems.

If Emanuel gives the Black Lives Matter protesters what they want, politically powerful police unions will be angry and, if it looks like crime will rise, more businesses and taxpayers will flee the city, making bankruptcy more likely. If he doesn't give in, then he'll face more protests and unrest, which will probably lead to more businesses and taxpayers fleeing the city, also making bankruptcy more likely.

Read the whole thing.

At Reason, Ed Krayewski has been out front and loud in discussing the generally underappreciated role of unions in police-abuse scandals. Check out his piece from a few weeks ago on the matter here.