Change the Contract: Portland Needs Police Reform Now

Police1The Portland Police Association is gearing up to launch negotiations for a renewed union contract for the Portland Police Bureau. Here at Jobs with Justice we know that Police Contracts are unlike most public sector contracts.

Police Union Contracts act as a shield to protect police from oversight or accountability (especially in cases of biases and police interactions with mentally ill people) while they continue to kill and harm community members with no consequence.

We think this means you should be informed and have an opportunity to weight in!

Police2The Portland Police officers’ contract is negotiated by the City and the Portland Police Association (PPA). Their most recent contract expires in July 2020. Negotiations for a new contract will begin in January 2020.

As city employees, the police should be accountable to the residents of Portland for their actions, especially around issues of biased-based policing.

We’re calling on Portland City Council and the PPA to ensure that this contract negotiation process is transparent and seeks citizen feedback along the way.

Now some people might say…

Police3“But the police are public sector employees and we support workers’ rights!”

We know that the police exist in a very specific position of unchecked power due to their ability to use deadly force, Portland’s long history of biased based policing, and the protections provided them in police union contracts across the nation.

“Supporting negotiations that increase oversight and employer power over the police violates the spirit of organizing and worker solidarity!”

We know that the police force has historically sided with the oppressive state over and over again. We know that the militarized police state has used varying degrees of force to silence workers using their 1st Amendment rights & fighting for more accountability for the police is an act of solidarity with the most marginalized workers.

“It’s a waste of tax payer money to negotiate against the powerful PPA”

We know that as city employees entering into negotiations with Portland’s elected officials, the police are essentially employed by the citizenship of the city who pay their wages through taxes. We know the police are overfunded and this is a worthwhile redirection of funds.

Police4The issue of Police Union Contracts keeping officers from any meaningful consequences for their action is NOT unique to Portland. That’s why national researchers and experts on police violence have been tracking problematic policies in Police Union Contracts across the country.

At a presentation to Portland city council members on October 1, 2019 organizers from Campaign Zero (a data-informed platform presenting “comprehensive solutions to end police violence”) explained how Oregon state law regarding deadly force is among the most permissive in the nation.

Police5We know that ensuring police are held accountable for their actions is an important part of showing solidarity to the most marginalized and oppressed workers in our communities.

That’s why we want you to be in the know. Because the power is with the people.

Keep an eye on our social media and the #ChangeTheContract campaign as we explore the policies we’re fighting for in the Portland Police Association contract, what they mean, and how they can be fixed. Together we can build and create a safer community with a police force that is more transparent and accountable to the people they serve.

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