About the first government workers of manage to join into protective organizations were the police departments and fire depts., for good reason, the police and firemen were on the line before most others. The others came later.
In the days when political patronage reached far into the lower ranks of government workers those with a lick of sense realized the idiocy of firing patrol officers and detectives, not to mention firemen, with each new administration. After all, it takes some time to learn the streets and how to keep fire damage and loss of life to a minimum.
So the police and firemen formed "benevolent associations" which eventually became labor unions. Along came the bus drivers, sanitation workers and, eventually, teachers. After they too formed labor unions they wanted the same pay and retirement bennies that police and firemen got, forgetting some important differences. There is a REASON police and firemen get to retire early. The common retirement used to be half pay at twenty years, three quarters at thirty. I admit to not keeping up with big city policies or gains made in the last twenty or so years.
Policing and fighting fires are young men's games. A sanitation worker does not have to chase, then fight and, finally cuff the garbage before throwing it into the truck. A city bus driver can still drive the bus at age sixty.
There are only a limited number of jobs that can still be done by the older police and firefighters. This is not that those jobs are unimportant, they are simply not physical.
The trouble is, folks like the teacher's union bosses see that cops get to retire while relatively young so they fight the tame politicians that have been elected because of union money for a benefit that simply does not apply. A teacher can still teach later in life than a firefighter can work the nozzle of a two and a half inch fire line or a bluesuit can fight a two hundred and eighty pound PCP monster.
Too many decades of that jealousy has led us to what is going on in Wisconsin now, California and Illinois next.
My fear is that police and firefighters will lose that option of retiring early. We will then see sixty-two year old officers on street patrol. Fortunately I live where we can still shoot bad guys.