March 28, 2013
Unions Blamed for Everything from a Bad Economy to an Ineffective Legislature
It’s no coincidence that many Americans now believe that unions are the problem, with a direct, active and well-funded campaign to convince them of that. We’re now seeing just how effective that campaign has been, as public employees bearing the burden and blame for failures of government to properly fund pension and health funds during times of fiscal prosperity while private institutions gambled away the very foundation of our economic system. The union bashing campaign is being orchestrated by a sophisticated group that understands how the media, in print, television and the internet play a role in promoting the government’s agenda.
Last year’s battle between public-sector unions and Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, has set the ground work for the battle we are poised to fight in Oregon. Walker’s agenda was to take away public-sector employees collective bargaining rights. We must remember the important role unions have played in our country over the last century. Unions have advocated for fair wages, benefits, and pensions for working all Americans, in the middle and lower classes. The next time you hear someone complaining about unions, ask them what they did on their last paid vacation. Then remind them that they have a paid vacation, a five-day work week, health benefits and safe working conditions only because unions fought for and won them for everybody. Unions have continued to fight for fair pay, workplace safety, paid vacation and sick leave for those who have no leverage to acquire those things on their own
Union’s advocacy for its members is an ongoing battle and with the support of its members is a battle that will be won!
Again, the PPA wants to thank you for your support as we’ve faced a wide range of issues in the past year and as we continue to meet those challenges head on. You, our members are the base of our strength and we recognize that as we continue to move forward. Take care of each other out there and we will be there when you need us.
Moving Forward on the Motion to Intervene
On February 19, 2013, United States District Court Judge Michael Simon granted the PPA’s Motion to Intervene in the lawsuit brought by the United States Department of Justice against the City of Portland, which alleges that Portland Police Officers have engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the constitutional rights of individuals with actual or perceived mental illnesses. The Judge specifically ruled that the PPA is to become a party to any remedy that the USDOJ and City of Portland may seek to implement that would address the United States’ constitutional claims.
This victory is important to our members because we believe that the Proposed Settlement Agreement between the USDOJ and City contains provisions that would seriously undermine our members’ collective bargaining rights. Those rights include officer safety, discipline standards, workload issues, and compensation. For example, the PPA believes that any changes to the PPB’s Use of Force and Taser policies implicate significant officer safety and discipline issues.
Yesterday, Chief Reese circulated ”final drafts” of the PPB’s new Use of Force and Taser polices as part of the PPB’s implementation of USDOJ reforms. Please be clear that the PPA has not been a party to nor have we agreed to these “final drafts” that the PPB has issued! The PPA’s input regarding these policies has been continuously ignored by the PPB, and Chief Reese’s assertion that the policies are a collaborative effort is incorrect. The PPA has sought and will continue to seek changes to the PPB’s versions of the policies, which are fundamentally flawed and will place officers at a safety risk and at risk for baseless discipline.
Although this dispute has been legally complex, the underlying motivation of the PPA has always remained clear. The PPA will fight to ensure that its members’ collective bargaining rights are upheld. We will keep you informed as this matter unfolds.
It has been a challenging year for the PPA
Among the many critical issues facing the PPA this year, our goal was to become more fiscally sound while still providing the highest quality of service. One of the major steps was to join the PORAC Legal Defense Fund. PORAC gives our members a broader range of legal defense in a manner that assures us of no financial limitations when it comes to your legal defense.
Now, we wait for the dust to settle on the USDOJ agreement with the City of Portland which potentially brings critical policy changes. We prepare for contract negotiations with the City. We welcome two new leaders to City Hall. We have hopes of establishing a strong working relationship that will benefit the citizens of Portland as we move into the future. We continue to work on your behalf.
There were many other matters that transpired as the PPA maintained business as usual while advocating for our members during this tumultuous year. It seemed like we barely had enough time to breathe between all the aforementioned activities coupled with day to day responsibilities. Also I cannot thank our office staff enough for their dedication to their duties and for the professionalism with which they represent our Association every day. They deserve kudos for the diplomatic manner in which they interact with members on a daily basis.
In all, it has been a challenging year for the PPA but remember our work is nowhere near finished and as each year renews, so do our many challenges. For those who have taken an active role, I thank you. For those who have not, I ask for just a little of your valuable time for the PPA. You will find the experience to be enlightening and rewarding.
There are so many of our members to thank for stepping up and contributing their time and expertise in furtherance of our mission. I want to thank the PPA Executive Board Members, Secretary Treasurer Tom Perkins, Anil Karia and Will Aitchison our labor attorneys, and our team of defense attorneys, who have all been so very valuable in guiding the direction that we are now headed into the future.
And last but certainly not least, my sincere thanks to you, the members of the Portland Police Association. The PPA’s members are the heart, soul, and life’s blood of what we do. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, expertise, and input in the many decisions that the PPA has faced with over the last year. It has been my honor, pleasure, and privilege to serve you, the entire membership of this outstanding organization. I wish you and your families the happiest of holidays and best wishes for the New Year.