Updated: Jan 10

The Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ) applauds the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) for its leadership, vision, and responsiveness to Black led community groups in crafting the landmark criminal justice omnibus bill that was introduced by Senator Elgie Sims this week.


This historic legislative package would take crucial steps in advancing racial equity, justice, and liberation throughout Illinois.The bill adopts critical language put forth by Representative Carol Ammons and WCRJ, which aims to upend systems of police impunity enshrined in municipal contracts and state law. Specifically, the bill would outlaw unjust impunity provisions in police union agreements, and repeal the sections of Illinois statute that reinforce these bulwarks against officer accountability and systemic reform.


Throughout Illinois, city contracts shield police from investigations of alleged misconduct and abuse. Local law enforcement unions, like Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), have negotiated watertight municipal agreements that are engineered to obstruct nearly any effort to regulate departments or hold officers accountable for criminal acts. Many of these unjust measures are also mirrored in Section 20 of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act.


Impunity provisions in police contracts and state law are a key driver of racialized officer brutality and corruption. Armored by unjust contract protections, police officers are often emboldened to exceed the limits of their powers with the assurance of virtual immunity. Such agreements also upend local efforts to enact structural police reform.

  • States that recently authorized collective bargaining powers for police unions, witnessed a subsequent increase in racially targeted police brutality. After Florida legalized union contracts for deputy sheriffs in 2003, complaints of officer violence rose by 40%.

  • Another recent investigation of the nation's one hundred most populous cities found that impunity provisions in police contracts are correlated with increased officer violence.

  • In this study, Chicago ranks the highest, both in terms of contract shields against accountability, as well as rates of police brutality.

Workers' rights to collectively bargain are a vital mechanism for ensuring equity and justice in our labor system - and by extension, throughout our society as a whole. And yet, for nearly half a century, politicized unions, like the FOP, have worked in bad faith to undermine the rightful intentions behind these powers. In municipalities across the state, police unions weaponize bargaining rights as a means to evade accountability for officer wrongdoing and perpetuate systems of racialized police violence, abuse, and corruption.


Historically, when unions have exploited collective bargaining powers to advance ulterior ends outside the scope of labor rights, the law has intervened. For example, in decades past, when workers' unions negotiated racially exclusionary contract terms, the courts ruled these activities to be unlawful.


Under the ILBC’s omnibus bill, police unions would retain their full rights to collectively negotiate legitimate workplace conditions, including compensation, benefits, and hours. However, the measure would outlaw bad faith provisions in police contracts that obstruct public accountability, such as mandatory destruction of misconduct records, narrow statutes of limitations on police complaints, and shields against officer liability in civil suits.


We extend our deep gratitude to Representative Carol Ammons, Representative Justin Slaughter, and Senator Elgie Sims for championing WCRJ’s policy proposal in the ILBC’s momentous omnibus legislation.



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Ahead of Monday's city council meeting on the 2021 budget, the Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ) is amplifying community demands for a city spending plan that reflects the true priorities and values of Chicago residents.


Take 30 seconds to send a quick one-click message urging Chicago lawmakers to enact a city budget that will promote real safety, equity, and justice in our communities.


Several weeks ago, the city of Chicago quietly released the results of a public survey on the 2021 budget. According to the report, 87% of the 37,000 respondents support spending cuts for the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and a reallocation of those funds to city programs that promote real safety, equity, and opportunity in our communities.


Despite the overwhelming constituent support for equitable redistribution of CPD's bloated budget, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has put forth a 2021 spending plan that represents a troubling continuation of Chicago's failed approach to public safety investment. The mayor's proposal would maintain the city's reckless overspending on ineffective, inhumane, and racially targeted systems of law enforcement. Moreover, Lightfoot's budget would perpetuate dangerous austerity conditions on vital human services such as housing, public health, and family services.


WCRJ has advanced a community-driven proposal for Equitable Public Safety Reinvestment that addresses the key city spending concerns voiced by the tens of thousands of Chicagoans who participated in the city's budget survey.

WCRJ's three year plan calls for a series of funding reductions to CPD, as well as concurrent budget increases to social services and public health programs. The proposal also provides for a newly established Community Safety Unit to deliver residents emergency public safety dispatch services, outside of law enforcement.


Your advocacy is essential to ensuring that our budget priorities are included in Chicago's 2021 spending plan.


Take 30 seconds to send a prewritten email urging every member of the Chicago City Council to adopt WCRJ's budget recommendations.

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Throughout Illinois, powerful union contracts shield police officers from investigations of alleged misconduct and abuse. Local police unions, like Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), have negotiated watertight municipal agreements that are engineered to obstruct nearly any effort to regulate departments or hold individual officers accountable for criminal acts. Many of these measures are also mirrored in Illinois statute.

Impunity provisions in police contracts and state law are a key driver of racialized officer brutality and corruption. Armored by unjust contract protections, police officers are often emboldened to exceed the limits of their powers with the assurance of virtual immunity.


Earlier this month, the Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ), in partnership with Representative Carol Ammons, introduced state legislation to outlaw police contract measures that obstruct open investigation of alleged officer misconduct and thwart efforts to enact meaningful police reform. HB 5830 would restore the intended purpose of collective bargaining rights, by limiting police union agreements exclusively to matters of compensation and wages. The proposed legislation would also repeal sections of Illinois law that echo police contract impunity provisions.


Take 30 seconds to urge members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to prioritize passage of HB 5830 in the November session.


Workers' rights to collectively bargain are a vital mechanism for ensuring equity and justice in our labor system - and by extension, throughout our society as a whole. And yet, for nearly half a century, politicized unions, like the FOP, have worked in bad faith to undermine the rightful intentions behind these powers. In municipalities across the state, police unions weaponize bargaining rights as a means to evade accountability for officer wrongdoing and perpetuate systems of racialized police violence, abuse, and corruption.


Historically, when unions have exploited collective bargaining powers to advance ulterior ends outside the scope of labor rights, the law has intervened. For example, in decades past, when workers' unions negotiated racially exclusionary contract terms, the courts ruled these activities to be unlawful.


Amid recent, heightened calls for racial justice across the U.S., Washington D.C. unanimously passed an ordinance to restrict police unions from including impunity measures in collective bargaining agreements. It is now incumbent upon Illinois and other states to enact corresponding legislation to remove impediments to officer accountability and systemic regulation of police departments.


Join WCRJ as we call on Illinois lawmakers to outlaw unjust police accountability shields by passing HB 5830 in the fall veto session.


For more information about HB 5830, please contact us directly.

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