Our History

History of The International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO

I.U.P.A. History Timeline

I.U.P.A.’s history began in 1954 when the union was known as the National Conference of Police Associations (N.C.P.A.). The N.C.P.A. was developed in response to the evolving demands of the law enforcement profession, especially collective bargaining and benefits. In 1966, the N.C.P.A. amended its by-laws to allow a number of local Canadian police associations to affiliate and became known as the International Conference of Police Associations (I.C.P.A.). It soon became apparent that police officers were in need of the support and services that only the AFL-CIO could provide through the auspices of other police officers. The I.C.P.A. declined to ally itself with the AFL-CIO, so the member organizations that saw the importance of a united labor front created the International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO (I.U.P.A.).

On February 20, 1979, I.U.P.A. was granted an AFL-CIO charter by President George Meany as the first union that gave the law enforcement community an independent voice within the organized labor movement. This partnership was created to enhance the working and personal lives of law enforcement professionals across the country. That partnership has not changed.

Due to our organizing campaigns, I.U.P.A.’s membership has grown tremendously since 1990. Included in the expansion across the country of police and sheriff’s departments has been the affiliation of corrections officers as well as 8,000 law enforcement officers in Puerto Rico. We now represent officers from California to Massachusetts, Minnesota to Florida, and across the Mid-West.

The ever-changing laws and demands on the law enforcement community have created a significant need for officers to be covered legally while on the job. In response to this need, I.U.P.A. created a full service legal program that was tailored to offer representation in matters related to grievance and disciplinary hearings, collective bargaining, job security, contract administration, and any other legal ramifications related to the course and scope of duty.

The I.U.P.A. further strengthened its policy of protection of its members by forming an alliance with a strong legal partner to cover civil and criminal incidents. The Legal Defense Fund (LDF) will provide an attorney on-site to assist you immediately for acts or omissions performed within the scope of employment. Most importantly, the I.U.P.A. LDF offers full protection with no cap on benefits, no co-payments, and no deductible. This LDF is by far the best in the country.

Since I.U.P.A.’s beginning, the organization has become one of the most influential voices for law enforcement in the political arena. We have always aided in drafting legislation impacting the lives of not only our membership, but the law enforcement and labor community as a whole. Our legislative initiatives include the National Police Officers Bill of Rights, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for public employees, educational survivor benefits and armor vest grants, to name a few.

The I.U.P.A. played a pivotal role in the passage of amendments that made the FLSA one of the most important labor laws ever passed applicable to law enforcement. In 1986, Congress passed a series of amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which forever changed American policing. No longer could law enforcement officers be required to work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week without compensation, and no longer did local unions and associations have to collectively bargain to ensure that overtime was paid at time and a half. The passage of the FLSA amendments demonstrated, clearly and unequivocally, the great value of an independent law enforcement and AFL-CIO-affiliated union. We also fought alongside the AFL-CIO in opposition to the rule changes to this act promulgated by the Department of Labor. This collaborative effort resulted in the passage of the Harkin Amendment through both houses of Congress on several occasions.

For over 30 years, we have fought tirelessly to ensure that law enforcement officers maintain their rights and receive benefits that are deserving of the job. We will continue to improve the legislation that protects and affects public safety officers, as well as represent the needs of law enforcement officers and support personnel, whether that is for better equipment, more staff, or a fair wage. Today, we are stronger than ever and will continue to remain steadfastly dedicated to our mission: to improve the lives of public safety officers.

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