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Kalkaska County Command seeks POLC help

Posted by: Jennifer Gomori Posted date: April 13, 2018

— By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

It’s one thing to follow up with your Union representative about ratification of a tentative agreement. It’s quite another to do their job for them.

That’s the situation Kalkaska County Command staff increasingly found themselves in when dealing with their former Union, the Command Officers Association of Michigan (COAM), said Kalkaska County Det. Sgt. Scott Griffith.

“We just felt like we weren’t getting represented. It seemed like we ran into a lot of problems where it became very apparent that we weren’t a high priority,” Griffith said of the COAM, which represented them about 30 years. “We were doing almost all the work, and when we’d run into problems, they just wanted to minimize it.”

“We felt COAM was not handling our needs up to our expectations,” said Sgt. Dave Wagner, local union president. “We felt that we deserved better representation and that was why we went with POLC.”

One big problem the five-member Command staff repeatedly experienced is not receiving the assistance they expected during contract negotiations. Kalkaska County Command local union representatives ended up reviewing the tentative agreement drafted by the County’s attorney line-by-line. “The Union rep told us to go ahead and sign it,” Griffith said, adding the rep told them they could fight contract issues later. “Why try to put the horses back in the barn once they’re out when you can keep them in there from the beginning? We realize we’re not a big unit, so we don’t bring a lot of money to the table, but give us a little representation.”

Uncomfortable with the rep’s assurances that concerns could be dealt with after the contract was signed, local Command representatives had a meeting with the County’s negotiation committee. “We were already past (contract) expiration and we were going to get a 1% raise (in the new contract) and weeks were going by,” Griffith said. “… so we dealt with them ourselves to get the raises implemented.”

“They (the negotiation committee) said, ‘we will get that corrected right away’ and then our Union rep called us and said, ‘You guys had a meeting?’” Griffith said. “It was very obvious we were not of any importance.”

Kalkaska County Command staff’s experience with POLC Labor Rep. John Stidham has been anything but dismissive.

“It’s going well and he listened to what we were looking to do and already drafted a contract proposal and contacted the County attorney and sent it to him,” Griffith said in late 2017. “We just got a phone call from (Patrol, Dispatch & Corrections local union president) Todd (Jones) that the County attorney wants to meet next week and start the process.”

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