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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 14, 2012 8:00 PM. The previous post in this blog was A cautionary tale from the California desert. The next post in this blog is Nagging question. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's time for a showdown with the PoPo union

We grew up in a union household. Without unions, we probably wouldn't be here. But you know what? The Portland police union is completely and totally out of control. If it won't behave even close to reasonably, the union needs to be broken. It will be traumatic, it will be painful, but at some point it is going to have to happen. It's either that or bankruptcy. Tough call for the City Council. But now that Admiral Randy is leaving City Hall, it's time for everybody on both sides of the bargaining table to grow up.

Comments (11)

Woah! You sound downright Republican, and I agree completely.

That's the thing. I'm not a Republican. I don't have a problem with birth control, or gay marriage, or taxing wealthy people more than we do now. I'm just an adult trying to avoid tragedy down the road.

It's this type of behavior that gives organize labor a bad name. Gov. Walker from my home state is a puke--however, all he has to do is use this as an example of "Unions Gone Wild"

Sounds like that for years, courts have said that the police and fire retirement system is a subset of the City of Portland, and that the City can't evade its legal obligations by making changes through the retirement system and pretending that the system is not a City agency. That rationale makes sense. Looking at the system's web page, it's a City bureau, and we're all taxed by the City for the costs of the system.

Whether the changes we voted on make sense is one question. Perhaps a bigger one is why the City can't seem to follow rules that have been long put into place. From the O's article, the police union just wanted to negotiate over the changes to the system before the package was referred to the voters. Why not do that? Who knows, perhaps an agreement might have been reached if only their was a discussion.

It's not yet ancient history, but the biggest cost reductions to the retirement system came as a result of voter approval of a package that the City did first negotiate with the police union. It worked then; why not try it now?

You know Municipal Bankruptcy is not an option; at least not until after Streetcar Charlie builds his streetcar empire.

THEN...the City will gladly declare Chapter 9.

"Broken"? Good grief, Jack, did you see Ronald Reagan in the mirror this morning? Obviously the gross imbalance in management-labor dealings must be righted, but the solution is for city leaders to hold the line and insist on fundamental changes during the next bargaining process, through the "traumatic" and "painful" consequences you correctly predict. City residents and others who come within reach of PPB officers -- a long reach indeed, given their firepower and willingness to use it -- will be better off for it. But there's a place for a union in a bargaining relationship that's roughly one of parity. "Breaking" a union is wasteful and counterproductive (unless you live in the Republican bubble).

And sadly for Portland, the Police union situation may not even be the worst. Take a look at the Port. The longshoremen and electricians seem to think they can wield monopoly power on the waterfront forever, but Tacoma is looking pretty attractive to some shippers these days.

Reference "cautionary tale from the California desert" below.

The general citizenry should be to Public Employee Unions what working class unions were to "The Company" a hundred years ago. They are going to have to break that one-sided unsustainable indefensible stranglehold on money and power.

The PE Unions are The Company and the rabble get to be the wobblies.

If Public Employee Unions should even exist, which is arguable.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but IIRC there was only one argument in the voter's pamphlet re this measure. It was drafted by Saltzman (generally speaking, a union guy) and it was in favor. I couldn't figure out why, if there were all these savings, the unions wouldn't be opposed. They seem to have plenty of money to spend on every other issue in the state.

This morning it occurred to me that maybe this was all scripted. The public gets to feel good about reigning in public employee union excess, but behind the scenes it's quietly overturned in court.

That may be far out, but for the life of me I can't figure out why there weren't any letters opposed. Particularly if the police union knew it was going to bring a lawsuit.

The cases in front of the Court of Appeals that the Oregonian referred to did not decide the issue of whether FPD&R is outside of the collective bargaining statutes.  It decided the cases on more narrow grounds. 
 
To William Thompson, the City did work with the unions to craft the 2007 reforms but they did not "bargain" the referral package.  Bargaining is a very specific process set out by state statute.  In addition, the unions were involved and had opportunities to weigh in on the 2012 reforms, with support for the package voted on by union representatives from both the Police and Fire union members on the FPD&R Board of Trustees.

Believing in good government is not at all incompatible with being a Democrat - it's just that idiots and public employee unions have way too much influence over the party.


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