The year was 1969 and a group of law enforcement officers found themselves in a unique position... Where to turn to for filing grievances and obtaining equal rights. Even though they were members of a state lodge of the FOP and had benefited from the FOP's accomplishments in some ways, they did not feel that their unique employment needs were being met. These men were Illinois State Troopers and members of Illini Lodge #17.
Even though the FOP was doing a good job for the various police agencies, troopers realized that their situation was unique. Requests made in their behalf had to go through layers of command including: district commanders, the Superintendent of State Police, the Director of the Department of Law Enforcement, the State Legislature, and finally, to the Governor.
The state and local lodges simply did not have the manpower to deal with the growing number of trooper issues. The FOP was also overwhelmingly represented by local police agencies at the national level and not prepared to deal with the troopers' problems. As a result, the troopers realized that their best bet was to break away from the local lodge and form their own branch. Although still affiliated with the State and National FOP, their lodge membership would be limited to Illinois state policemen.
They made their intentions known to Lodge #17. Although Lodge #17 officers were divided on the decision to split, the troopers were determined. Forest Clark, instrumental in forming Lodge #17, was one of the founding members of Troopers Lodge #41.
On April 2, 1969, the application for the Lodge #41 charter was signed by Forest Clark, Henry Sikorski, Billy J. Bivens, Charles Mahan, Robert Kearns, Donald Thompson, William Powell, Roger R. Boone, Phil Southwick, Thomas Garwood, Charles L. Scott, Frank Dragoo, and Keith L. Mahan. That same day, the installation of the officers of the new Lodge was held in Springfield, Illinois. Billy J. Bivens was sworn in as President and Troopers Lodge #41 became a reality.
In December 1969, an attorney was retained on a full-time basis. His primary concern was to serve as legal counsel to troopers when they were facing charges brought by the State Police Administration. Prior to the formation of the Lodge and the trooper's involvement with the FOP, a trooper could be suspended for thirty days or less without being given a hearing or be suspended indefinitely pending an investigation. In some cases, just challenging a suspension could be considered grounds for dismissal.
In November of 1972, Les Gunning was appointed Legislative Representative to act on behalf of the Lodge during a special session of the General Assembly. Gunning had stated that "The 1970 session was the first time troopers were permitted to appear in front of the legislative body. The state senators and representatives were finally hearing the feelings of the people who worked the road. All previous input had come from the administration."
Troopers Lodge #41 contracted to publish a magazine with the proceeds to fund their programs. The first edition of Trooper was published in the spring of 1976.
A major milestone for the Lodge was the awarding of scholarship grants to college bound sons and daughters of Lodge members. In an attempt to lighten the heavy burden of higher education, Troopers Lodge #41 has been issuing grants to eligible students annually since October of 1978.
The attainment of collective bargaining for Troopers Lodge #41, a 17-year goal, was finally made a reality in 1986. State officials realized collective bargaining was the only feasible method that non-union workers could use to attain fair representation in contract negotiations. Collective bargaining rights have helped Troopers Lodge #41 achieve and secure increased salaries, improved pension benefits, and stronger appeal procedures.
Forming the National Troopers Coalition was the accomplishment of another long term goal, greatly assisting the needs and bargaining strength of Troopers across the country.
Today, Troopers Lodge #41 has seven executive officers, fifty-two executive board members, one full-time attorney dedicated to disciplinary representation, a full-time labor attorney and a second labor attorney on retainer, all working towards the common goals of Illinois State Police officers.
Members of Troopers Lodge #41 can be proud of all that has been achieved through years of hard work, determination, and successful contract negotiations. Their goals have become a reality because members continually band together to work for the common good, knowing that in unity...there is strength.