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Ogemaw County Command impressed with outstanding service of POLC

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: April 29, 2022

By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Detective Lt. Dave Stahl, Jr. summarized his view of the Command unit’s new POLC Labor Rep. Chris Watts in one word – “Outstanding.”

“In my opinion, when you’re dealing with unions, you’re only as good as your Rep. and I can’t speak highly enough about Chris,” Stahl said.

Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Command was represented by the Teamsters for nearly a decade before joining the POLC just before the contract with their former Union was set to expire Sept. 30, 2021. Initially, they were not even looking for other representation, but when they heard Ogemaw County Patrol was interested in joining the Police Officers Labor Council, they decided to attend the Union’s presentation.

“When Patrol starting talking about it, they wanted more of the police-oriented Union,” Stahl said. “We met with Chris and Lloyd Whetstone (POLC Member Services). Our Teamsters Rep. that we had dealt with was retiring. We were trying to stay consistent, so we were trying to (align) with the Patrol unit as well.”

After joining the POLC, Watts went right to work, negotiating a 3-year labor agreement effective Oct. 1, 2021 with significant increases in wages and benefits. Command was able to piggy back on the 17 percent wage increases Watts negotiated for Patrol.

“We established a rank differently for the Command guys and they never had something like that,” Watts said. “They’re going to maintain a certain percentage above each of those levels. Basically, we established for them something along the same lines as what we got Alcona County (Sheriff’s Command). We got (Ogemaw County Patrol) a significant raise because of the lack of keeping up with the market. Then Command established their wages on top of that.”

The Command percentage increases above Deputies were: 5 percent for Probationary Sergeants; 8 percent for Sergeants; and Lieutenants received a 13 percent increase.

“When we met with Chris, we hammered that out between our unit and Chris for a set percentage for Sergeants and Lieutenants,” Stahl said. “What happened was the Deputies got such a huge pay increase and then we got the 13 percent above that. It was very rewarding to get that type of contract.”

Previously the group negotiated strictly with Ogemaw County Commissioners, but this time was different. “The County had never had a County Administrator prior to this contract negotiations. The combination of Chris working together with the County Administrator is what helped both contracts,” Stahl said. “Having both Chris and Tim Dolehanty in the room and working through negotiations kept things on task and helped it to be very professional and it went smooth.”

Command was pleased with the switch to MESSA health insurance, which Stahl said was a good fit and comparable to their previous Teamsters insurance. The group had temporary insurance provided by the County by the time POLC started working with them.

“The Teamsters, when they found out we were talking about switching (unions), they eliminated our health care on the spot. They canceled us in July,” Stahl said.

Other enhancements with the new contract include more Holiday and Bereavement time, which were converted from a standard 8 hours to 8, 10 or 12 hours depending on each Employee’s assigned shift. Field Training Officers are now compensated an additional 10 percent stipend for time spent training other officers and afternoon and midnight shift premiums doubled.

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