I read with interest Nate Feltman’s June 19 column [Collective bargaining protects bad cops]. I would posit that collective bargaining in [and] of itself is not the culprit but rather how so many municipalities have apparently allowed themselves to be run roughshod at the bargaining table by the respective bargaining agents (unions). Having a collective bargaining ordinance in place does not mean “bend over.” It means bargaining in good faith agreements that meet the needs, in the main, of both parties.
Apparently, too many cities have allowed themselves to be run over in the past 20 years. Indeed, apparent language in collective bargaining agreements tying the hands of local officials to discipline or terminate poor performance should never have been allowed at all and is likely in conflict with state law.
I served as mayor of the City of Elkhart from 1984-1999 where collective bargaining ordinances were enacted in the early 1980s. Of course, unions always wanted everything they could get their hands on. It was our responsibility as local officials to negotiate contracts that protected the rights of the city and its taxpayers. I never had the support of the police union but at various times had the support of AFSCME, Firefighters, and the Teamsters—but not always which was fine.