From the President

October 14, 2012

Since my last update, the following groups have joined as members of SCOPO. Let’s welcome Nevada County Probation Peace Officers Association, Lassen County Probation, Amador County Probation, Modoc County Probation, and Yuba County Probation Peace Officers Association! That brings us to a total of 37 California counties that are now represented within SCOPO. As we continue to grow, we need to move forward with one voice, as a force for change. Not just in changing people’s perceptions about probation, but creating a better future for our profession and our society.

To our regret, our two bills, AB 1968 (Wieckowski) and AB 2031 (Fuentes), were vetoed by Governor Brown on September 30th in the final hours before the midnight deadline. We drew some strength from the fact that both bills were two of the final fifty considered by the governor for this legislative year, knowing that there were a few thousand bills submitted and considered throughout the course of the last nine months. We certainly learned a few things while navigating the legislative process, and as a result are looking at not only resubmitting revised versions of both bills, but also introducing a few new ones. AB 1968 was set to be the beginning of a process whereby officers throughout the state would be armed. Something that has been an ongoing issue, even before the passage and implementation of last year’s AB 109. It is still a relevant and important issue to advocate on behalf of officers working in conditions created by a more dangerous world.

A major piece of legislation that was passed was AB 340 and its companion AB 197. Both will impact a majority of state and local public retirement systems. Even though the bulk of both bills will affect new employees only, the most costly piece will be the part that requires employees to pick up 50% of their “normal cost” towards their retirement. What’s troubling is that the exact definition seems to be a moving target. CalPERS has weighed in and provided a number that comes in around 12%, while several ’37 Act retirement systems seem to be pointing to a number closer to 33%. A final understanding of the legislation is still pending, with many still scratching their heads about its impact moving forward. SCOPO, like labor organizations throughout the state, historically took the position that pension reform should be negotiated at the local level and at the bargaining table. Many groups have already reached labor agreements that accomplish pension reform, and give counties long-term structural reform. Apparently, the legislature and the governor felt that things weren’t moving fast enough. Another thing that AB 340 does is to effectively remove collective bargaining from implementation negotiations after a period of five years. You see, if your local labor group and the county cannot reach an agreement within five years from the date of implementation (January 1, 2013), then in 2018 employers can impose an equal cost share of employee contributions that are 50 percent of the “normal cost,” through a bargaining impasse including mediation and fact finding. Not exactly comforting news if you ask me.

During the course of this year’s President’s Messages, I’ve emphasized the importance of getting out the vote for this year’s November 6th election. This year more than ever we need to get out the vote in support of several propositions and the defeat of another. The first one, Proposition 30 – the Governor’s tax initiative, needs our support. Prop 30 will help to stabilize funding and prevent trigger cuts from taking place. The second one in need of our support, Proposition 35 – will protect children. Its goal is to raise awareness and unite Californians to take action against human trafficking and sexual exploitation where we live. Another measure, Proposition 32 - the Stop Special Interest Money Now Act (aka: Paycheck Deception or Corporate Power Grab), needs to be defeated. If Prop 32 passes, it will effectively silence Labor’s (OUR) voice in state & local politics. It would prohibit unions/associations from making direct monetary contributions to state and local candidates using member dues, and prohibit contributions to ballot measure committees if the funds are collected via payroll deduction. Proponents of Prop 32 say that this measure “is simple, fair and balanced….limiting both corporate and union political giving.” The reality is that this measure only impacts unions/associations. Less than 1% of companies use payroll deduction as a means of raising money for political purposes, but unions/associations get more than 95% of their political funds through payroll deduction. Corporations already outspend unions/associations 15 to 1 in political expenditures, and this would serve to exacerbate that number. Make every effort to educate your friends, family and co-workers about the importance of defeating Prop 32 and passing Prop 30 & Prop 35. More information about the Vote NO on 32 campaign can be found here: http://www.stopspecialexemptions.org/. 

Stay alert, stay safe, and stand committed.


Paul Brennan
SCOPO President