This year, the Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association (PPOA) celebrates 70 years of providing service to its membership. During these 70 years, PPOA has strenuously fought for members’ rights and benefits and successfully achieved:
- 4850 time for sworn members, and in the 1990s obtained the same benefit from the County for Custody Assistants
- Retirement credit buy-back for military members
- Disability coverage as a co-founder of the Peace Officers’ Relief Fund (PORF)
- Safety equipment, advocating to the County to provide firearms and protective vests
- Medical presumptions and consistent legislative efforts resulting in presumptions for bloodborne pathogens, heart disease, lower back injuries, staph infections and more Star & Shield Foundation, providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial support to families of fallen members and those members in need
- POPA Federal Credit Union, established in 1978 offering benefits to members at four full-service locations
- Ventura II lawsuit: PPOA successfully increased pension benefits for future retirees and added $200 million in benefits for those already retired
- Scholarships, providing financial assistance to members and their families for educational purposes
- The PPOA Online Uniform Store, making uniforms and accessories available at up to a 35% discount
Additionally, from PPOA came the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS), of which approximately 8,000 Deputy Sheriffs belong.
UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL
Whether it is COVID-19 fatigue, indifference or the political polarization of issues within our society, PPOA has faced challenges in the last two years like never before. Strangely, instead of coming together as PPOA members have in the past, there are some members internally and opportunistic groups externally working to harm this beloved organization and its membership.
No matter which side of the COVID-19 vaccination argument you fall on, PPOA, as an organization, believes the COVID-19 executive order, mandating all County employees to be vaccinated by October 1, to be draconian, resource-intensive and an unprecedented process, which threatens the employment of County employees unnecessarily. PPOA and the Coalition of County Unions (CCU), including ALADS and 12 other unions, have maintained a strategic stance:
- Against any COVID-19 vaccination mandate that includes discipline
- Continue to demand accommodation and/or testing options for our members who may not be defined within medical and/or religious exemptions
- Continue to address with the County the unreasonableness of the timeline
PPOA and the other unions of the CCU believe the County is seriously underestimating the impacts of this mandate on their workforce. As I write this, the Los Angeles Times is reporting the state of California is experiencing failures in its ability to mandate employees to vaccinate (tinyurl.com/4ym4vmdx). The poorly conceptualized demands of the County mandate ignore good labor relations, logic and unrecognized consequences to the citizens of Los Angeles County. Adding insult to injury, the breakdown in impact negotiations and the threat of termination to our members require PPOA and the CCU to fulfill our duty in defending our labor rights.
As you know, PPOA had engaged in intensive negotiations along with other member unions of the CCU. These negotiations included a need for delayed implementation, testing for those who would like that option, reasonable accommodations, the security of personal information and any potential discipline levied by the County. Negotiations reached an impasse, meaning deadlock or stalemate, on September 30. The next steps will lead to mediation and fact-finding, which PPOA has always advocated.
The CCU and PPOA have used and relied upon legal counsel and information provided by its members to craft and direct its plan of action in the most favorable and strategic manner. Our members’ working environment, protection of personal information, defense against threats of discipline and ability to work without duress have always been and continues to be our goal. Our actions thus far have included:
- Continued legal strategy meetings with our PPOA counsel
- Submission of County COVID-19 documents to outside labor law firms for additional perspective
- Strategic discussions with the California Fraternal Order of Police and their legal defense attorneys
- Strategy meetings with the California Coalition of Law Enforcement (Los Angeles Police, San Francisco Police, San Diego and others)
As well as enhanced communications with our PPOA membership through:
- Board member visits to units and facilities
- Delegate meetings and briefings, including legal counsel
- Zoom meetings with members, including legal counsel
- Relevant and timely email blasts
- Continuous summary of events through the Week in Review emails
While PPOA has warned members of unscrupulous entities profiteering off of fears, rumors are rampant, false information prevalent and trust in leadership is waning. PPOA’s commitment to our members and the preservation of your employment and working conditions have not. PPOA and public safety are now faced with an anti-law enforcement sentiment and activists influencing politicians like never before. PPOA and the CCU are working tirelessly, consulting with our legal team for any potential arguments upon which to take action. We must not initiate litigation based on feelings but instead on sound legal references. Any and all failed lawsuits or unsuccessful attempts at injunctive relief will only embolden the County’s position, harming all strategies in play and PPOA members in the long run.
Some members have appeared to have been influenced, joining other groups, donating to causes with outside law firms and even requesting drop cards. Some speak of knowing the law better than our attorneys. Some regurgitate information from social media and Google searches of COVID-19 science, presenting them with their own personal bias. What they have not done is recognize that this organization and all of its available resources are working on these concerns day and night, not as a belief to be proven, not as a research project, but as a fight, which requires a full-time overarching perspective.
To those members, I must remind them, UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL. PPOA’s experience, longevity and numerous successes speak for themselves. “Let us not split into factions, which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.” Let’s not allow PPOA to fall victim to a twist on the cancel culture. “Tough times never last, but tough people do!”
Instead of being a keyboard warrior or the cynic in the briefing room, come participate. Not with all of your accusations, but with an open mind and spirit to engage. Become a delegate. Come learn for yourselves firsthand of the complexities and perspectives that influence the decisions of the PPOA Board of Directors.