Posted by: Jennifer Gomori Posted date: November 10, 2015
— By Jennifer Foley, POJ Editor
Shiawassee County Corrections Officers were represented by the Teamsters for about four decades, but when the going got tough they watched as five of their 22 members got going to layoffs they feel could’ve been prevented with the right union representing them.
“There was a millage for our Road Patrol and it didn’t pass, so five of our guys got bumped out,” said Lauren Shelly, local union alternate. “Our Teamsters union rep said he couldn’t help us and that we should get someone else. The same union rep represented Command Staff, Road Patrol and Corrections. Five Road Patrol Deputies came into the jail and five of our lowest Corrections Officers were laid off. We felt that we were not getting fair representation due to this.”
The Corrections Officers unit joined the POLC in July, a half year before their contract was set to expire Dec. 31, 2015.
“We called POAM also to talk to them about switching unions and they said we could not switch unions until near the end of our contract,” Shelly said. “When we talked to (POLC Membership Services Representative) Lloyd (Whetstone), he said you have a 3-1/2 year contract and MERC (Michigan Employment Relations Commission) doesn’t recognize any contract over three years. Anything over that, you don’t have to be stuck in your contract. So we decided to go with POLC.”
The ability to get into a different union sooner coupled with great recommendations from other units led Shiawassee County Corrections to join the POLC. “I actually helped recruit most of them,” said POLC Labor Rep. Hal Telling of the five new units he represents that recently joined the POLC. “Shiawassee County was not happy with the Teamsters.”
“I talked to two different people that I knew. One said they had POLC and went to POAM and went back to POLC,” Shelly said. “They said that the POAM rep signed the contract even though they all voted no. That was big red flag. I talked to another person that was represented by POAM and he told me that their rep told their unit that he, the rep, could agree to a contract even if the group did not vote for it.”
“We liked the fact that they (POLC representatives) were adamant if we have an in custody death, the attorneys would come out,” Shelly said. “We had two in custody deaths last year and no one from Teamsters came to the jail or even called concerning the deaths. It’s nice to know there will be someone to help us out if we ever need it.”
Joining the POLC before their contract expired also gave the group a leg up on negotiating. By September they were already giving Telling their list of desires for the new contract.
“We would like to keep our MERS multiplier at 2.5%. Based on news articles, the County Commissioners are going to try to reduce our multiplier to 1.5% and we obviously would like raises,” Shelly said. “We haven’t had a raise in the last 8 or 9 years.”