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Alcona County Deputies & Corrections pleased with POLC’s whole picture approach

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: July 12, 2021

By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

Alcona County Deputies & Corrections Officers have had a tough time retaining new hires, so they joined the POLC to make the changes needed for staff to stay.

“We have a hard time being a training grounds for other departments,” said Deputy Andrew Wright, President of the Local Union. “People stay a year or two years and they up and leave and it’s 100 percent because of the economic packages that are offered by other places that have higher pay, better pensions, better working hours.”

With their contract expiring Dec. 31, 2020, Alcona County Deputies and Corrections voted to join the POLC in November 2020 following 20-plus years of representation by the Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM).

“Our neighboring department (Oscoda Township Police Department) was already with POLC. They made the switch a few years ago,” Wright said. “We were interested after talking to them, just hearing how their first negotiation went, how POLC does comparables and they really do their homework in terms of what’s available. That was something that was never done by POAM. It gives you a complete overview of where you’re at economically with your department compared to everyone else.”

“After we did our sit downs with a few different unions, we liked how POLC presented themselves and the amount of work that they put in toward getting a better contract,” Wright said. “He’s (POLC Labor Rep. Christopher Watts) very knowledgeable about not only our contract, but other contracts throughout the state.”

Alcona County Deputies and Corrections has 18 full-time and six part-time Employees, however Wright said, a few more Employees already had plans to leave Alcona for jobs with better pay and benefits.

“It’s been status quo with the POAM forever,” Wright said. “Our group is very excited for this new opportunity to work with a new Union. It brings hope for change to be possible in the future.”

POLC Labor Rep. Christopher Watts settled the group’s first contract through the Union by restructuring the wage scale bringing Employees immediate raises between 10.5 and 40 percent.

“We got them some fantastic raises,” Watts said. “They went from a 15-year to an 8-year wage scale. That’s nearly half of their wage top out.”

“The Deputies saw an immediate increase of about 14 percent on day one,” Watts said. “The Corrections Officers saw a 16.11 percent increase on top of the reduction of top out rates. They went from 15 (years) down to 8 years and also got a 16.11 percent immediate raise.”

Jail Cooks wages increased 10.5 percent and Part-Time Deputies starting wages increased $5.12 per hour, a 39.75 percent wage increase.

“Chris got us everything as far as wage increases up front the first year,” said Local Union Steward Brad Peters, an Alcona County Corrections Officer. “We didn’t really lose anything. Chris definitely did his homework for us. We were in this contract mainly for the wages and he went above and beyond and got us caught up.”

The three-year contract also includes one additional longevity pay step and sizeable changes to the shift differentials. Shift differentials increased from 15 to 50 cents per hour for afternoon shifts and midnights increased from 20 cents to $1 per hour. “You figure over a year’s time that’s a lot of money,” Peters said.

Alcona County Deputies and Corrections Officers appreciated the POLC’s holistic approach to bargaining and the personal attention they’ve received.

“We had a really old contract as far as language was concerned and Chris really cleaned that up for us and brought it up to date,” Peters said. “We were very impressed with how he came in and did a presentation for us and he was very prepared. We’re very pleased with what took place. We hadn’t had quite that success in the past.”

“Chris has been awesome – just on the ball with everything. He’s always available to take a phone call, always calls back,” Wright said. “He gives us an entire representation to take a total overview of our contract. Another Union would steer us in one direction or the other. Chris is trying to make it better as a whole which is nice.”

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