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POLC, GELC hire new attorney as Zulch accepts State Mediator position

Posted by: Jennifer Gomori Posted date: June 23, 2017

— By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

POLC Labor Attorney Tom Zulch has made a career of helping officers through the worst times in their careers. Now he will take his extensive labor relations experience to the State of Michigan as a Mediator.

Zulch is leaving the POLC/GELC by the end of June and beginning his State Mediator position July 3. He has been with the POLC 30 years, starting as a Berkley Police Officer in 1987. He obtained his law degree while working full-time for Berkley and went to work as an attorney for the Detroit Police Officer Association for nearly five years before joining the POLC staff as a Labor Attorney in 2004.

“I hate going, but I take pride in helping officers when they’re involved in a shooting,” Zulch said. “I hated the 2 a.m. phone calls, but understood the need to help them get through that.”

Taking his place will be a familiar face – Michael Akins, who served as a law clerk for the POLC and Labor Attorney John A. Lyons from 2007-2011 while Akins attended law school.

“I stayed in contact with (POLC/GELC Labor Attorney) Brendan (Canfield) and Tom and others at the POLC in my time away and when Tom announced he was leaving, I was contacted by POLC about coming back and it just worked out,” Akins said. “I think it’s a great organization. I feel very fortunate to have the chance to come back and work with everybody again.”

Akins has a bachelor’s degree in Labor Studies, graduating cum laude from Wayne State University in 2004. He earned his juris doctor degree from Wayne State in 2009. He is a partner at Gregory, Moore, Jeakle, and Brooks, P.C. in Detroit serving as a union-side labor and employment attorney. The firm represents several police unions, including the Detroit Police Officers Association and Oakland County Deputy Sheriffs Association, together with private security guards covered by the National Labor Relations Act.

Akins will begin working as a full-time POLC/GELC Labor Attorney Aug. 1, after he’s had time to finalize his current cases.

As a POLC law clerk, Akins gained valuable experience conducting extensive research for labor and employment law matters, assisting with the review of grievances, and writing arbitration briefs, including those presented during Act 312 compulsory arbitration hearings. He also drafted briefs for various Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) proceedings and prepared pleadings and motions in state court cases.

“I did an internship at Sugar Law, and they do labor work, and then I got this clerkship,” Akins said. “That started me on this path. Because of my background, I was able to get the job doing labor and employment law at the firm.”

At his practice, he is responsible for presenting labor arbitration cases involving discipline, discharge and contract interpretation disputes. His practice also reviews grievances and collective bargaining agreements; represents clients in labor-related lawsuits in Federal and State courts; assists in the presentation of Act 312 arbitration hearings; and involvement in National Labor Relations Board proceedings. He handles employment law matters encompassing statutes such as: the Fair Labor Standards Act; Family Medical Leave Act; Title VII (workplace discrimination); Americans with Disabilities Act; Age Discrimination in Employment Act; and Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act.

Zulch said he has experience acting in a mediation role in his current position, settling issues in favor of the members he represents. “A mediators’ job is to get people to settle,” Zulch said. “I do that a lot in my position as an attorney. The difference is that whoever I’m representing I’ve got to advocate what that person or bargaining unit wants. As a mediator, I’m more open to be able to express a negative position or try to get them to alter their position instead of advocating for it.”

Zulch will miss the friendships he’s developed with coworkers and members, but will be in touch with POLC/GELC members when he’s assigned to mediate their cases.

“Thanks to everybody that works here and all the members, I appreciate everything,” Zulch said.

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