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Ogemaw County Patrol’s switch to POLC yields 17 percent pay increase

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: April 22, 2022


By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

Matt Viviano is a longtime POLC member, so when he joined Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Office he soon realized the difference in representation.

“I retired from Hazel Park (Police). We were a part of the POLC my entire 20 years down there,” said Viviano, Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Deputies Local Union President. “I was the Vice President of the Union for a number of years for Hazel Park. I know the resources and I know the people and I’ve never had a bad experience with the POLC so why wouldn’t we bring them on board (with Ogemaw County Patrol).”

After retiring in 2016, he went to work for Pinconning Police Department for two years. “It was time to get out of the big city,” Vivano said.

When he joined Ogemaw County Patrol in 2020, they were represented by the Teamsters until their contract expired Oct. 31, 2021.

“It was kind of thrown in my lap to handle all the Union affairs and I immediately said we needed a 312 Union,” Viviano said. “I doubted their ability to handle it. I’m sure the Teamsters are great for people who drive for a living. I just think the application wasn’t good in our setting.”

Viviano reached out to his former POLC Labor Rep. Lloyd Whetstone. The seven-member Patrol group and four-member Command staff liked what Whetstone and POLC Labor Rep. Chris Watts presented and both groups voted in the POLC as their new Union.

“When they switched over, the Deputies split away from the Corrections group,” Watts said. “Corrections stayed with Teamsters. Patrol left Teamsters because they felt they weren’t being represented well. Teamsters are not a police-orientated group by trade and they wanted to go to a police-oriented group.”

“When I was exploring the POLC, I also invited the Command to listen in when we met with Chris initially,” Viviano said. “The Command was hesitant at first but they liked what POLC pitched.”

Ogemaw County Patrol settled their first three-year bargaining agreement with POLC, effective Nov. 1, 2021 and received 17 percent raises up front with a total wage adjustment, changing the scale from a 20-year top out to a 5-year top out.

“What we did is we redesigned their entire pay scale because they had fallen so far behind,” Watts said. “We presented comparables that were more in line with where they should be and we condensed the pay scale down. They had a long top out. It was a significant amount of time between start and finish. The first year of the contract their wages jumped up significantly.”

“We had two negotiations and it was Ok’d after that,” Vivano said. “It all happened pretty quickly. The previous contract was just so archaic. I believe everybody on board in negotiations knew how behind the times we were.”

“The new County Administrator, Tim Dolehanty, was fantastic to work with,” Watts said. “He came from Ingham County and he was excited that we were going to be there because he’s had some experiences with the POLC. He knows we’re a reputable Union.”

Holidays and Bereavement were converted from 8 hours of Paid Time Off (PTO) to 12 hours to match Patrol’s new shift. All time off is together in one Paid Time Off Bank now.

“We were only getting 40 hours off up to 7 years, and now we’re on a Paid Time Off Bank of up to 256 hours per year,” he said. “That was a big increase in time off. Between Paid Time Off, Holidays and Bereavement, and obviously the wages, those are the highlights of the contract.”

Watts said the Patrol PTO bank was brought up to par with Command’s PTO bank. “The Employer said let’s just make this all equal,” Watts said. “Patrol really saw a significant increase, gaining more than 100 hours of additional time off per year.”

The new contract has already improved Employee retention and recruitment with three new Deputies hired since the contract was ratified, Viviano said.

“When we sat down, we negotiated them some fantastic increases,” Watts said. “One of those benefits was we brought MESSA insurance and cut the costs for the Employer, which in turn they were able to offer better pay incentives knowing they were grossly underpaid.”

The group’s shift premiums doubled and medical insurance improved. Their prior medical insurance through Teamsters came with a $98 monthly premium for family coverage.

“MESSA presented two plans and one with a Health Spending Account so a majority of the members went with the HSA and were able to save the $98 they paid with Teamsters,” Viviano said. “And MESSA is available to Employees countywide. POLC did a real good job doing all that.”

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