Posted by: Jennifer Foley Posted date: January 20, 2016
— By Jennifer Foley, POJ Editor
Grand Blanc Department of Public Works (DPW) didn’t have a problem with their former union, but the Government Employees Labor Council (GELC) had more to offer and with their contract expiring in May 2015, they thought it was a good time to start fresh.
The DPW group was with Technical, Professional & Officeworkers Association of Michigan (TPOAM) for about six years. “We just thought, ‘Well if we can do better, we’re going to try another avenue,’” said Tim Kehn, local union president.
GELC/POLC Membership Services representative Lloyd Whetstone approached the five-member group, since Grand Blanc Police Command was already a Police Officers Labor Council (POLC) unit. “Our command staff is with POLC and they’re happy with it,” Kehn said. “We really weren’t looking. They came looking for us. They sounded like they had some good things to say so we thought we’d give them a try.”
Kehn was particularly impressed with the legal staff on hand to work on issues that, in some organizations, would not have the same caliber of representation. “One of the things that really appealed to me was the fact they used attorneys to argue grievances rather than just union reps,” Kehn said.
The GELC hit the ground running, negotiating a tentative agreement on behalf of the group. Now they are waiting for other city groups to decide if they will agree to support a bond proposal to pay off the Municipal Employee’s Retirement System (MERS), which was approved in the DPW tentative agreement.
“(The City) wants a bond to pay off MERS,” Kehn said. “They’re waiting for the other groups, like patrol, to see if they’re going to go along with that.”
If the agreement is ratified, GELC Labor Rep. Hal Telling said, “They will get pay raises – 2 percent for the first two years and a $500 signing bonus. They also get an additional bonus when the contract is ratified and a $2,000 matching 457 deferred compensation contribution.”
If the pension is bonded, Telling said, the fixed Employee contribution will drop to 5 percent, which is a 4 percent savings to each Employee in the tentative agreement. “That’s an additional 4 percent in their pockets besides the raises,” Telling said. “Basically, it’s like a 6 percent raise for them.”
The three-year agreement has a wage and health care re-opener in the third year, phone allowance for Employees, take home trucks for on-call workers and would expire May 31, 2018 if ratified.