You might recall that one year ago, PPOA was forced to cancel our 20th Annual Pre-Labor Day BBQ and general membership meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The general membership meeting was held via Zoom in September 2020, however, for the first time since its inception in 2001, the barbecue, traditionally held outside under the “big top” at Biscailuz Center, had to be canceled.
The first five months of 2021 were still subject to county and state COVID-19 restrictions that resulted in PPOA once again having to cancel our annual charitable Heroes Ride and Peace Officer Memorial Golf Tournament events.
On Tuesday, June 15, 2021, Los Angeles County hit a milestone by joining California in fully reopening its economy. If Dodger Stadium was going to be allowed to be at full capacity, then there was no reason that PPOA couldn’t resume its tradition of honoring our working women and men by recommencing our free 20th Annual Pre-Labor Day BBQ at Biscailuz Center on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. This is an outdoor event and masks are encouraged when not eating or drinking.
PPOA will continue its commitment to ensure that our members who attend the barbecue have a great experience enjoying freshly prepared food, giveaways and prizes. More importantly, this event will allow our members to resume pre-COVID-19 opportunities to see old friends and many retired members as well. PPOA will also hold a short general membership meeting around 12 p.m. Please make every effort to attend and pre-celebrate Labor Day, the one holiday in America dedicated to working women and men.
Typically, previous articles written regarding our PPOA Pre-Labor Day BBQ were about the history of the labor movement, the celebration of unionized working women and men as well as the many sacrifices made by previous PPOA members who expended blood, sweat and tears to allow future PPOA members the legal ability to collectively bargain for wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment.
The state of organized labor in Los Angeles and the United States remains united and strong despite the pandemic. However, the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd while being arrested by Minneapolis police officers resulted in massive local, regional, national and worldwide protests demanding elected officials to enact police reform, empower civilian review boards, defund law enforcement agencies or abolish the police altogether. What then does the aftermath of the Floyd killing have to do with labor? A lot.
According to a Gallup poll published on July 22, 2020, that focused on “Americans’ Views of the Need for Changes in Policing,” a majority of Americans, 56%, supported eliminating police unions, with results relatively consistent among Black (61%), Hispanic (56%) and White (55%) adults. Despite much higher approval of labor unions in general among Democrats than Republicans, Democrats are significantly more likely than Republicans to favor eliminating police unions (62% vs. 45%, respectively). Political independents fall closer to Democrats, at 57%. This polling may suggest that respondents believed police unions are responsible for blocking efforts to increase officer responsibility and accountability by negotiating protective contract language through the collective bargaining process. Before dismissing the Gallup poll as biased, as it was taken two months after the Floyd uprisings, the same poll also showed that most Americans believe the idea of abolishing the police goes too far: 15% overall say they support it, with Black Americans (22%) and Hispanic Americans (20%) somewhat more likely than White Americans (12%) to do so. Almost no Republicans (1%) support the idea, versus 27% of Democrats and 12% of independents. However, there is also a sharp distinction between younger and older adults on this question; one-third of those younger than 35 (33%) support the idea, compared with 16% of those aged 35 to 49 and 4% of those aged 50 and older. (To see the full poll results, visit tinyurl.com/yrwx3dde.)
Locally, organizers with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles launched a campaign in February 2021 targeting the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) and the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS), two of Southern California’s biggest police unions. Their goal is to push to have these two recognized bargaining unions ejected from the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, and ultimately disbanded. PPOA is also a proud member of the L.A. County Federation of Labor. Every Wednesday, activists stage protests outside the LAPPL headquarters while also seeking to end the organization’s status, and all other law enforcement bargaining groups, as a labor union. The activists are also attempting to work on state legislation that would decertify all law enforcement associations. Asked about the activists’ campaign, L.A. County Federation spokesman Christian Castro said his organization believes “… that every worker in every field should have the right to collectively bargain and build power in the workplace under a union contract.”
PPOA strongly shares that fundamental and foundational belief, and will fight to the end to ensure that no organized union ever loses its ability to collectively bargain for its workforce. Let’s never take for granted how critically vital collective bargaining is for the over 14 million unionized American workers, their families, their employers and their communities. Happy Labor Day!