Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President
As I write this month’s message, word has come that Chuck Reed and Carl DeMaio’s anti-public-employee pension reform campaign is being halted, albeit temporarily, until 2018. In a vague statement, they’ve now indicated that at least one of their initiatives will potentially be refiled for the 2018 ballot, citing a desire to see how the Friedrichs case decision pans out in the U.S. Supreme Court. Depending on the outcome, a renewed effort in 2018 could be a problem, especially if it is tougher for public employee unions to collect political action money from their members.
Since the start of the year, some of our local association leaders have wondered if we still need to be voluntarily contributing to the California Pension Act Reform assessment campaign, which PORAC members initiated in 2014. One might think that this latest news from Reed and DeMaio is good, but is it really? Don’t get me wrong, this is welcome news to hear, but the reality is that it draws out the fight that we know is coming for another two years. Great. I’m thrilled.
While it may suggest an opportunity to breathe easy again, I think that easing up on funding this campaign to the extent we have over the last couple of years and walking away from it now is absolutely the last thing we ought to be doing. Sure, it’s extra money that could be focused elsewhere, but if Friedrichs becomes the prevailing law of the land, we are most certainly looking at a finite number of dollars to defend our pensions with, so … time to sit back and relax? I think not.
Now is the time to rally together and put forth a campaign fund that rivals that of our partners whom we stood shoulder to shoulder with during previous assaults on our wages and benefits. Lest we forget, they contributed the bulk of the funding behind our strategy to beat these things back. What will happen when they find themselves handicapped by this new dynamic of having to desperately beg for additional monies from their members to fund political campaigns like the one we will need to wage against Reed and DeMaio? What will we do? Some of you may actually have to do some of that desperate begging from your respective memberships, as well.
Sitting back on our haunches and waiting for the first bullet to be fired is absolutely the worst thing that we can do. We’ve been given the gift of time, and that provides an opportunity for us to bring together and educate our members (and the public, for that matter) on just how detrimental the Voter Empowerment Act and Government Pension Cap Act would be to all of us in public service. Time also allows us to grow the “war chest” and make sure that when the time comes — and it will come — we are able to aptly defend ourselves against individuals like Reed and DeMaio, whose deep-pocket donors could effectively take away what we have worked so hard for over the years: our retirement security.
Every dollar helps. Be it from active or retired, line-level or management, three-member associations or our largest and most diverse organizations, participating in whatever way your association can demonstrates solidarity and sends the message to our opponents (as well as your members) that we will bring an aggressive fight to the ballot box, irrespective of when it finally gets decided.
Most importantly, PORAC continues to be on the front line of this battle, keeping you informed and up to date on the key issues facing our profession, especially when they have the type of impact that we believe these initiatives will have. Be sure to stay connected to www.porac.org, as well as regularly attending your chapter’s meetings to ensure that you aren’t caught off guard about this critical issue. And if you have questions or concerns, seek out your local leadership and get the facts.
As you may have heard, delegates at the 63rd Annual PORAC Conference of Members approved the elimination of PORAC Bylaws Article II, Section 11 — Membership, which states: “Any organization holding limited membership status as of November 24, 2002, can maintain their limited status as long as there is no interruption in the payment of their dues. This does not preclude any limited member from upgrading to full membership if eligible per Article II. (S.R.)”
Amid the rather uneventful debate that occurred on this issue on the Conference floor, the delegates identified the desire to bring all of our peace officer members together under our regular membership classification, in light of the challenges to our retirement and profession, the most prominent of which I discuss above. Recognizing that only a small number of peace officer associations hold limited membership status in our organization under this bylaw, the body felt that they should no longer be permitted to participate in such a restricted fashion. With the Conference of Members unanimously voting to eliminate this section of our bylaws, a small group of current limited membership associations will need to become regular membership associations if they wish to remain in PORAC. We have begun the process of contacting these associations’ representatives to begin this transition, which must be completed by October 2016. If you are an association affected by this change and have questions about it, please contact your regional PORAC representative or the PORAC office.
Take care and stay safe!