A Focus on Negotiations and Recovery From the Wildfires
To help you learn more about where and who your fellow members are, in each issue of PORAC Law Enforcement News we’ll profile one of the 14 chapters up and down the state. We hope that reading about each chapter’s challenges and achievements will bring us all closer together and inspire you, your association and your own chapter as you navigate the road ahead. This month, we start with the Northern Chapter.
Labor negotiations are top of mind for the Northern Chapter. “For most agencies in our current environment, [the priority] is keeping the benefits we have,” says Ron Jacobson, chapter president.
That challenge is easier to meet with the help of other agencies.
“We get together and look at ‘What is everybody else getting? What is your city council and board of supervisors doing with negotiations and how can we either do that or not do that and go with different models to help in the negotiations?’ That’s the biggest thing we’re dealing with right now, just figuring out where everybody’s at, what they’re looking for and where we’re going,” he says.
For instance, the financial market is up, the local real estate market has started to slow and that the Federal Reserve is going to raise rates three times in 2018, Jacobson notes. “What is that going to do to the economy? We’re looking at the global economy, just like everyone else.
“We don’t just sit down and go, ‘OK, I want a 5% to 10% raise a year.’ It doesn’t work like that. There’s a cost factor, and we understand there’s a cost to doing business. Where can we negotiate things that benefit both sides?”
In addition, the public has to agree with the outcome, he says. It has to be reasonable and good for both sides because “the public looks bad on us — ‘You guys are money hungry.’”
“Meeting with our members quarterly gives me the opportunity to speak with other associations who may be facing the same issues,” Jacobson says.
Not only do agencies collaborate on negotiations and discipline but on casework, too. “With freeways, everything is kind of intertwined; we can be looking for the same group of suspects. It’s networking for doing the job that we do,” he says.
Pulling Together During
Last year’s wildfires in Napa and Sonoma counties were “devastating to our chapter,” Jacobson says. “There were whole neighborhoods gone in a matter of a day. We lost 80-some homes between police officers, deputy sheriffs, corrections and RAM members in that area. Our July and October meetings were pretty emotional with what was going on, with the amount of time these guys worked for days on end without a break because of the fires, trying to protect the community and firefighters.”
During the wildfires, “everyone was scattered throughout the region to help out as much as we could,” he says. “Sonoma DSA served thousands of meals from their union hall to law enforcement and firefighters 24 hours a day while the fires were burning. Guys who were off duty would volunteer and come in and help serve meals to the guys who were working the line. We also had some Marin County deputies who came up to Sonoma County to help work and serve.”
PORAC and CAHP Credit Union also helped with fire and recovery. CAHP provided aid and set up the donation page for the PORAC/POREF Wildfire Relief Fund, which “was giving funds out to help people who had lost their homes and such,” Jacobson says. “California Casualty — one of the insurance companies that works with PORAC members — was literally out there and was disbursing funds to members within hours of them filing claims, helping people get back on their feet. California Casualty was a huge part of starting the recovery process once these fires were contained,” he adds.
Jacobson has been a member of PORAC since 1999. Six years ago, he “was asked to run for the Solano County VP position. And when our last president retired in 2016, I took over last year,” he says. What does he want to accomplish? Get “the smaller agencies within our chapter to be more active, to come to all events and chapter meetings,” he says.
It is at those chapter meetings that Jacobson appreciates the presence of PORAC leadership. It “provides us the opportunity to ask questions and get answers firsthand from them. It’s also a benefit to hear about the status of bills at the state capitol when they attend meetings. They’re walking the halls every day and working for us at different levels of the state.”
“With the evolving role of law enforcement and the perception of law enforcement in the news, it’s nice to have PORAC being our voice at the state capitol as well as in the media defending us,” Jacobson says.
President: Ron Jacobson
Director: Sean McKrell
Solano VP: Mike Nichelini
Marin VP: Carl Huber
Napa VP: Jon Thompson
Sonoma VP: Cecile Focha
Secretary: Carl Heiser
Treasurer: Rick Walker
Number of members
Solano, Napa, Marin and Sonoma counties