Monday, July 20, 2009

SDPOA Board of Director's Need Your Support

"Enthusiasm over experience"

Where have we heard that before? My last post seems to have sparked a bit of a fire. Somehow the comments migrated to the SDPOA Board of Directors; name calling; accusation; and finger pointing. Sometimes it's good to let off a little steam and let out frustrations in venues that allow for this type of release. I addressed some of the musings within the comments section of the post, but thought I would take some time and provide a perspective from one who ended up the focus of similar name calling, finger pointing and accusations; some at the hands of current Board members before they were elected.

We live in a politically charged time where frustrations have reached their limits. The constant haranguing by the media, politicians and citizens has taken their toll on the best of us. In 2005, we faced down a city that was blaming its employees for all of the ills of a budget out of balance and a retirement system that was intentionally underfunded. We offered concessions which amounted to giving back the entire "Retirement pick-up" being paid by the city on the employee's behalf. We would be giving back 11% and over a three year period we would get back 9 ½% by way of pay increases and increases to add on pays. The city balked at our proposal and imposed a 3.2% elimination of the retirement pick-up followed by a 1.57% elimination of the same; totaling 4.77%. New hires lost DROP and there were other reductions.

The result was an angry membership and a member who is now a current board member, standing in the crowd during the membership meeting; demanding the board hire a "Professional Negotiator" and for the SDPOA to sue the City. The yelling was loud and angry; accusations of incompetence and ignorance were thrown at the board by members. The board was blamed for the failure to reach agreement. A group of members began to assemble to wage war and began to schedule protests walks and pickets in an attempt to show displeasure with what was happening. The law suits were eventually undertaken after much discussion and argument.

The next year we entered negotiations and again were facing cuts and reductions to benefits. Along comes the suspension of "Comp Time" when the SDPOA refused to allow changes sought by the City to occur. We believed if the changes were allowed to be made Comp time would no longer be a benefit to the employee; only the City. The Chief agreed if the changes were agreed to; there would be little if any hope of comp time going back to the way it was and being a benefit to the employee. For the better part of nine months comp time did not exist as there was no agreement. The membership blamed the board and called for our heads and demanded we "Do something, anything" to get comp time back. We held our ground because we knew what the ramifications would be to agreeing to the changes sought by the City. Ultimately, the Tuesday after the election where three new board members were elected and two of us were voted out of office; the City agreed to re-institute comp time with very minute changes. (Care to connect the dots?)

I had predicted at a dinner held for in-coming and out-going board members shortly after the election; the SDPOA and City would agree to a contract providing a raise to our membership. I predicted a raise of between six and nine percent. I was almost exact in my predications. The board was praised for their success and everyone was happy. The City agreed to increase the money provided for FLEX Benefits for those employees with families and reduced the money for those without dependants. Something we had been trying to accomplish for years. The overall feeling was the contract was OK.

This past year we took three steps backwards with the elimination of any increase to retiree medical benefits; another reduction in salary; another elimination of retirement pick-up; and the City reduced the FLEX Benefit money at the same time premiums were increased. To add insult to injury the City increased the age of entry into DROP to 55. To make matters worse; Fire, MEA and City Attorney's agreed to contracts and received LESS in the way of reductions and did not have the age of entry into DROP changed and had their retiree medical simply frozen for two years.

The SDPOA Board sought relief in the courts to stop the City from making changes to DROP. The jury is still out on the final outcome of this litigation. The SDPOA Board has been praised by some and castigated by others, for the outcome of this year's round of negotiations. Many believe a "Professional" negotiator would have provided a different outcome. Some believe the Board failed to deliver.

I believe the outcome for this year's negotiations were pre-determined. The mayor had an agenda and he was hell bent on fulfilling his plan. The SDPOA is the ONLY labor group who is not bound by PERB (Public Employee Relations Board) and thus cannot file an "Un-Fair" labor practice for the type of treatment and actions used by the mayor during negotiations. The mayor knew if he pulled the same crap with ANY of the other unions he would be facing an unfair with PERB and he would in all likelihood lose. The mayor anticipated the SDPOA would file suit in court to stop the changes to DROP. He was hoping this would be their avenue of action so he could get the issue before the courts.

The SDPOA Board had little impact on the outcome of negotiations, because this year there WAS NO real "Meet and Confer." The City came in and said, "This is what we want; this is what you are going to give us; and we will accept nothing less." Professional negotiator; Teamsters; nor the President of the United States could have changed this year's outcome.

The way we respond to the adversity of these negotiations is how we are judged. The comments in my last BLOG Post hint at the frustration of members. In my first stint on the SDPOA Board in the 1980's I was that young, inexperienced and ENTHUSIASTIC board member who often spoke before I thought (I know, some of you still think I'm that guy) but after years of tasting shoe leather and the dirt collected on the sole of my own shoes, I have learned from those days. We have a board comprised of new board members who are learning the nuances of politics and the art of negotiations. These same new board members make up the Executive Board. They control the vote and direction of the Association. There are four mentors who have experience dealing with negotiations and tough times. The new board needs to listen to these directors and include them in the discussions and decisions being made. They need to ask questions and seek out former board members; talk to union directors of other police associations; as well as PORAC and NAPO members and seek the advice of those who came before them.

The membership is changing; the rules are changing; the world is changing. The board needs to change to keep up. Pointing fingers and throwing insults is not only NOT productive, it leads to dissension. Ranting on a BLOG or Forum is not productive; for either the membership or the Board. Face to face, open and honest communication, is always more productive and professional. If you have a bitch; voice it to your representative on the Board and offer a suggestion for improvement or change. Offer to participate and help out with discussion, planning and implementation of whatever the Board determines is necessary to help prepare for next year in hopes of placing the SDPOA in position to be successful. The nine board members CANNOT do it alone. They need your help and your support. We are all in this together and if one of us fails, we will all fail.

14 comments:

Just Wondering said...

The City counts on dissension and is thrilled to see voiced on blogs like this one. It promotes it in ways that are not obvious and as Steve mentioned, it beginning again and negotiations are several months away.

Until you knuckleheads get that through you thick skulls nothing getting better. Sanders knows this. But worse, he knows how you think, he knows how cops behave and have this need to blame others for failure. He's been there, and done that. Worse, he beat the system before. He sued and won. We sue, but, for whatever reason, the courts, both state and federal have repeatedly disagreed. Although, the last time the POA went to court, a new attorney, Mr. Conger, managed a partial ruling in our favor. But where were you? NONE of YOU cared enough to go and support the POA Board you elected for the entire four hour hearing... What message did you send to the city with your lack of support?

Sanders could not have been more pleased. Ultimately, he got what he wanted, the court ordered the POA back to the table to negotiate with the City on DROP.

Sanders knows what's necessary to come out on top even when it means climbing over you and stepping on your fingers or letting innocent civilians die at McDonalds because no one was going to do anything until he got there to claim victory.

Today, as Mayor he is empowered by the rage aimed at your wages and guaranteed retirement benefits. The worldwide economic collapse has decimated the retirement plans of millions of Americans, who now see your guaranteed benefits as part of their pain. The public that you swore to protect and serve has turned against you with Sanders leading the charge against the evil public employees unions.

Remember, he a politician now, he'll use every advantage, no matter what it is. One advantage is his power over the "at will" police management, the other, dissension within the POA. So, go on continue to criticize the POA in public, do it on blogs like this one and others, then stay on the sidelines offering no idea, no real support, just negative lip service and see what happens. But don’t be surprised if you give up even more next year especially when YOU did nothing. You earned it.

Patrol Copper for Life said...

Thanks Steve for a real perspective of today's reality. We do have a young and inexperienced Board of Directors. I cringe every time I see a forum or blog comment by Jordan, Woody, Brian or Randy. Why is it they all feel the need to blast from the hip, shotgun in hand? If it is to let the membership know they are in charge; they need to find a better way. It simply looks bad and not professional in any way.

Press Release after press release is like the little boy crying wolf; after a while no one listens.

I agree Steve we all need to chip in and help out. This new group who is "leading" the POA needs to be the ones putting posts like this out and explaining what is going on. For all of their posturing and pontificating; NOTHING HAS CHANGED and in my opinion has even gotten worse. At least before when we asked questions we got straight answers. All we get now is "I'll look into it and get back to you" and they NEVER get back to you.

We need to elect our President. The Board of Directors should be elected by the membership and then the President elected separately to a 4 year term. That would allow for consistent representation and provide a leader we can all buy into.

Thank Steve for this BLOG and the information you put out. I would hope the powers to be see what you are doing and reward you for the work and effort you have put into this. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Okay I'll say out loud... is Steve running for the board again?

Anonymous said...

Steve. Another great commentary on life as it really is. It would be nice to see you on the Board again. However, having been on a few boards and a past president of a couple, I can fully understand any hesitancy.

Hopefully, the present Board can educate themselves with help from those such as you. These are really trying times both for active and retired members. We all need to pitch in.

Free Radical said...

Prepare to cringe....Woody D. here....Young and inexperienced SDPOA Board of Directors?! With the exception of Marvel and Jordan, our Board is late 40's to early 50's. Randy and I are new, but the other Directors have been on the Board for at least 3 years. Most have been around over 6 years and were on the Board when Sparky was. Jordan was a Cop 7 years in Jersey before coming here. Before that he was a paralegal in a high end litigation firm. He may look like Fred Flintstone but is extremely intelligent. Sullivan is has an advanced accounting degree and is a the sitting SDCERS President.

Equating the drubbing we took this year to the Board is ridiculous. First, read the the newspaper. These economic times are rivaled only by the Great Depression. What happened this year was preordained by the Mayor and pushed through by the other Unions. We got 15% in raises over the last two contract years. The other Unions had gotten zero in the last four. Because of this they came in this year an insisted on a "me too" clause on each of their contracts. They all said they would not take cuts unless the POA did. They threatened impasse and the Council had no stomach to stand by us. We negotiated from mid-January until early July trying to get a contract. We had paystudies and reams of other items supporting our position. We went before Council and met with them individually numerous times. In the end they would listen to none of the facts we presented them. All we heard is that the crime rate was low and times were bad. In the end we asked just to be left at status quo. We told them people would leave if we took cuts. There answer was, "not in this economy they won't". Top that with the fact the Cheif constistantly told the Mayor and Council that things were fine and we were shut down.

As for communication. The POA is far ahead of where it was three years ago. We have the website, forum, Facebook, Twitter, E-blasts, Phone Blasts and Choir Practices. We are prohibited by MOU from using department e-mails. Frankly, I don't know how much more we can do to communicate with the membership.

This fall Sullivan is leaving due to him being elected as SDCERS President. Marvel and Jordon are up for reelection. That is three spots available for people who think they have what it takes to do better than we have.

With all due respect for Sparky and this great blog, we were infact at impasse the last two years of his term. I say this with no malice, it is just a plain fact, as things sit your Board can only do so much.

24 Year Member Woody said...

WOW Woody, you seem a bit defensive? I think what Steve was saying was we all needed to work together and not take shots at each other. Steve rightfully pointed out the newest members of the Board were on the Executive Board and were in positions of power to make decisions. I did not see where he was making mention of anyone's "experience" as a police officer or age in years.

Steve is right on when he points out the need to communicate and to include members and the need for members to voice their opinions and confront in-person those board members who are not representing the members in a proper and professional way. You, with this post showed what others were complaining about and the way you go about "confronting" or trying to justify in your mind what you and the board is doing.

It is really nice that you have all this Internet stuff to communicate with the member. It is sad that you and the rest of the board are not taking a page from Steve and putting out useful information and talking about the issues in a cogent and logical manner without starting a fight or argument.

No where did Steve equate or in any way imply the Board was the reason for this years contract. In fact Steve was supportive of the Board in almost every way. Why are you attacking Steve? Sometimes the truth hurts?

I for one agree completely with what Steve posted and think the comments of Woody are yet another example of the inexperience being pointed out by Sparky. You have a lot to learn Woody and a long way to go as it relates to dealing with people as the representative of a membership of 1800 strong. You represent all of us when you act and say the things you do in the manner in which you do and say it. Most of us do not approve!!!

Good post Steve.... Keep it up!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Woody, I don't need nor want a history lesson and I believe those who don't understand we're suffering the after affects of an economic tsunami have their heads buried in the sand. What WE need is effective leadership, not more talk.

I think most of us could care less what other labor groups are demanding or wishing for. If the city wants to play the "me too" game it's on them, not the POA. I for one can't imagine why the POA has not exploited this as a city problem, not a benefit.

If you and others read Visit the police pay blog site! and Goto Pension Tsunami! you know we're all facing real problems because media is painting ALL government workers with the same broad brush.

The POA needs to engage in a concerted counter media blitz that sends a message each and every time some in San Diego publishes false and misleading info. Now is not the time to wait and see what happens.

sparky.sandiego said...

Welcome Woody… I’m not sure you were directing your rants at me or everyone in general; with some swipes at me. I will respond in kind. As already pointed out by another posting above, you make the point of many who have complained of yours and others replies on forums and blogs. You have attempted to draw me into a public fight for years, over your perception of me and what I do or not do. I refused in 2006 and I will again refuse here as it serves no purpose and will accomplish little.
I will address some of what you attempt to defend. If you take some time to re-read my comments you will note I discussed the Executive Board as being young and new at the jobs they hold. You are one of those individuals. While you may be of age in years, you have little if any experience in the real world of politics as it relates to representing the membership of the San Diego Police Officers Association. Your vast experience in “negotiating” car purchases is admirable, but short of the experience necessary to match up with real politicians who hold the vast majority of power over our contracts, benefits and wages.
I was offering a generalization of the experience related to that of a labor representative for the largest group of law enforcement officers in this county. I am fully aware of the police experience of our current board members and their related experiences. Brian is the youngest President this association has ever had. He has fewer years on the department of any person to hold the presidency of this association. To Brian’s credit; he has taken over at the worst of times and has reached out to those persons I alluded to in my original post. I have talked with Brian and know he has reached out to PORAC, NAPO, LAPPL (Los Angeles Police Protective League) DSA, and others. He has reached out to me and I am sure other past board members. Brian has ALWAYS returned my calls and emails. I have had conversations and discussion with Jeff. Again, one of the youngest executive board members in recent memory of the SDPOA. I am fully aware of his experience in New Jersey. Vastly different than what he has experienced in San Diego as it relates to politics. East Coast; West Coast are as different as night and day when talking union politics and actions. Jeff, in my opinion is learning and reaching out to various people in an attempt to make sense of the way politics are in San Diego. Mark’s experience is relegated to his time on the SDCERS Board and again his limited experience as a SDPOA Board member and now executive Board member is just that, limited. Mark is a smart guy who is very astute at numbers and finance. Mark’s experience when dealing with politics, politicians and the art of negotiations if limited to his short time on the Board. Rounding out the Executive board as Secretary; you too have limited experience as a Board member and again the nuances of representing a large membership.
I never equated as you say the drubbing of the SDPOA and the experience of the Executive Board or the Board in general. I was supportive and making a case that there was little anyone could have done during the last round of negotiations. You miss the communications complaints from those who are trying to make a point. The e-mail blast was around when I was on the board (I was the one who set that up); the phone blast was around when I was on the board (I was the one who set that up); the Forum was started by the board when I was there (I monitored it and refused pressure to shut it down when it was used to attack members); the website was up and running when I was on the board; Twitter and Facebook were in their infancy a year ago and I applaud the board for using this media now.

sparky.sandiego said...

The communication members are clamoring for is personal. It is the face to face contact and communication with them on a regular basis. They are begging and wanting daily communication relative to issues affecting them. The SDPOA Forum is a perfect place for ALL Board Members to POST a daily commentary associated with one or more of each of their committees. The Forum is a place for the Executive Board to post DAILY comments on political activity of politicians, business people, the board members and the like. This needs to be followed up with frequent “Town Hall” type meetings with members to talk about issues and needs (Both theirs and the boards)
I started this BLOG in an attempt to provide a small portion of that communication. I have deliberately stayed away from Departmental; SDPOA; and personnel type issues so as not to pit members against each other. It serves no purpose. The command staff is not the problem or cause for the position we find ourselves in. The City Council and mayor are the ones responsible for the struggles we are dealing with. That is where I have attempted to maintain the focus and allow people an outlet for ranting and raving against them.
I have always been supportive of the SDPOA. I gave the better part of my life to the Association and representing the membership and it has cost me in many ways. I regret some of the things I did out of ignorance, lack of experience or knowledge, that had an adverse effect on the membership and my ability to represent the membership. I regret I was not able to adequately COMMUNICATE properly with members and the taxpayers the issues facing us all. I do not regret putting the member first; fighting for the membership; demanding fair wages, benefits and working conditions for the membership; fighting the administration over personnel and discipline issues or calling bullshit when I saw it or smelled it.
I would support Brian and Jeff without hesitation for re-election. I believe they both have a lot to offer and a bright future. I have concerns with the toll it will take on both of them as they start and raise young families. It is a commitment that cannot be taken lightly and requires more time than anyone not in their shoes knows. I applaud them for what they have been able to accomplish under the circumstances. They are owed our support as I said before. We are all in this together. If one of us fails, we all fail.

Just Wondering said...

Well finally some interesting news and, if I might add some food for thought for the POA.

Check out this story in the Voice of San Diego... Unlike the biased story published by the so called SDUT Watchdog group.

Vladimir Kogan is a doctoral student at UCSD's Department of Political Science. He is a co-author of a forthcoming book about San Diego politics and its pension crisis. His e-mail address is vkogan@ucsd.edu. His analysis is insightful. Here is the link:

VoSD analysis of City Wages!

Anonymous said...

This is exactly what the POA needs. It should be all over this with the local media, print, radio, TV etc...

Just Wondering said...

Well if the first link didn't try this one....

Voice of San Diego Payroll Analysis

Bumper said...

You are out of your league Woody. Do us all a favor and shut up!!!

Free Radical said...

To Steve....it was not my intent to attack you on your blog. I very much enjoy it. I also thank you very much for your support of the SDPOA.

Unfortunately a few years back when I was the "The Rablerouser" I was less than polite in my comments about you and the SDPOA Board. I had a website and a blog blasting the POA for their perceived shortcomings and I had no problems standing up at a membership meeting and saying what I felt need to be said. Hell, you called me a "scab" because I had spoken to the FOP. We had been at impasse for two years and I was pissed. Damage done, water under the bridge, etc. Now that I have been in your shoes for a while so to speak, I do apologize for some of my behavior back then.

Anyway, so here we sit again at impasse. As you say Steve, we can fight amongst each other, which the Mayor loves or we can plan our attack for the future.

I agree with the need for face to face meetings with the membership. I started the Choir Practices for that reason. Due to the mass of retirement parties we did not have one in June or July. The next one is on August 13th at 1700. The Board meeting is also that day. I am thinking about asking for a restructuring of the meeting so open comments can be heard from 1600-1700. Choir Practices will be monthly and we will move them around so people with different days off can attend. Come on down and talk.

Woody D.