As all of you have hopefully heard by now, on June 27 the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in the case of Janus v. AFSCME. It overturned 41 years of established case law by declaring the collection of “fair-share” or “agency shop” fees by public employee unions to be unconstitutional under the First Amendment. This means that nonmembers can no longer be required to cover the costs of collective bargaining, managing grievances and other nonpolitical functions that unions undertake on behalf of all employees regardless of membership status. The court essentially said that all union activity is inherently political, and that requiring employees to “subsidize” it infringes on their free speech even when they also reap the benefits of their bargaining unit’s hard work.
Anti-union organizations are already gearing up an aggressive campaign to persuade public employees to leave their unions. Even though labor and supportive legislators in states like California have expected and prepared for this decision, it undoubtedly will become harder for public-sector unions to keep their heads above water as the next tidal wave of attacks on our rights and benefits rolls in.
What does this mean for PORAC members? I want to be clear that Janus does not change the well-established principles of PORAC and PORAC LDF membership: Member benefits, including legal defense coverage, are available only to individuals who maintain full membership in an association affiliated with PORAC. PORAC has the greatest lineup of attorneys, and they work exclusively for PORAC-affiliated associations. Vice President Brent Meyer details the many important benefits of membership in his message on the next page. I will add that for over 64 years, PORAC has been the most respected voice and largest collection of interests for peace officers in California. We are resolute and dedicated in protecting you and what you are trying to build for your family in the face of an increasingly challenging job that continues to grow more dangerous. PORAC is focused on building solidarity among police officers, sheriff’s deputies, correctional officers, probation officers and public safety personnel to create a common voice of advocacy on your behalf. This core commitment to bringing and keeping people together is the foundation of what PORAC represents.
Now, our united voice is more important than ever before. As I said to Corporate Counsel Bob Bonsall in our recent On the Job With PORAC podcast episode on Janus (which I encourage you to listen to for further background and analysis), I believe that this Supreme Court ruling was purely ideological, designed to undermine organized labor. After the decision was announced, PORAC issued a statement calling it what it was: the continuation of the war against both labor unions and law enforcement in this country. We already know that law enforcement is under attack, and a new pension fight looms as well. Shoulder to shoulder, we must defend our profession, our livelihoods and our very lives.
It is vitally important for all of you to continue your membership in your respective associations and maintain your associations’ membership in PORAC, so that we can keep strengthening our Legal Defense Fund, our Insurance & Benefits program, our political advocacy, and our partnerships with our fellow law enforcement organizations and labor groups. Your being a member of your association makes it stronger, and your association’s membership in PORAC makes us stronger. With your ongoing support and involvement, our organization will stand firm and steadfast for you in Sacramento and D.C. Our opponents may think they can break us, but we will prove them wrong. In times of greatest adversity, peace officers always seem to rise to the occasion and exceed expectations; this will be no different.
Connecting with our members is our highest priority, and communication is crucial in forming the powerful coalition we need to face the battle ahead. That’s why, on a happier note, I am pleased to announce that the PORAC app has won the 2018 APEX Award for Publication Excellence! This annual honor is bestowed on professional print and electronic media that demonstrate overall communications effectiveness. In partnership with our publishing team at 911MEDIA, we’ve worked hard to create a user-friendly app that allows members to access all the information they need, and we’re proud to see our efforts recognized. If you haven’t downloaded and used this award-winning tool yet, now’s the time to see what it’s all about at PORAC.org/porac-mobile-app.
As always, stay safe, and my deepest thanks for your membership and support.