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Supervisors take command of their representation

Posted by: Jennifer Gomori Posted date: September 29, 2017

— By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

When Nathan Smith was promoted to a Sergeant with Sanilac County Command five years ago, he noticed the lack of union representation with everything from communication to contract negotiations.

“I was President of the Deputies association. When I came to Command, I did not get any service,” Smith said. “We didn’t feel like we were getting anything from our rep. The last contract we put together with no assistance from our labor rep. We went without a contract for two years,” Smith said.

So when the POLC met with Sanilac County public safety groups in late 2016, Smith, now President of the Command unit, and other command staff wanted to hear what they had to say. “The Deputies invited us to attend. They weren’t happy with the service they were getting either,” Smith said. “We ended up switching and they didn’t yet. They were able to get a different rep.”

Smith said his group was impressed with the research and comparables POLC provided; the option to join Cops Trust for health coverage; and the available legal staff. “It’s nice to hear your labor attorneys are involved in arbitration and mediation,” he said. “It moved very quickly after our meeting. A week after I met with them, we had all of the cards back with everybody but one voting to change (unions).”

The 14-member group was represented by Command Officers Association of Michigan for nearly three decades. After switching to the POLC, not only did they get a responsive Labor Representative in Scott Blackwell, he helped them settle a three-year bargaining agreement with wage increases each year from 2017-2019.

“They got two percent raises all the way across the board,” Blackwell said, adding that the POLC represents both Corrections and Road Supervisors.

Under the current contract, they also added a Detective Sergeant position with a $1,800 stipend in January and July every year for the increased responsibilities. Health care coverage expanded for new hires, whom now have the option of two-person as well as single coverage.

Blackwell also worked to save current employees pension plans, which the County attempted to take away. Existing Employees will remain in the Defined Benefit plan, if the County can fully fund the pension system, while new hires will be placed into a Deferred Compensation plan with the Employer contributing 7 percent of hourly wages.

“It’s hard to keep people here,” Smith said, so having the assurance when Employees get promoted to Command positions that they will not automatically lose their pension benefits goes a long way. ”They would transfer into our unit with what they had,” Smith said.

“We’re very pleased with the services that have been provided us so far,” Smith said. “Scott’s done a wonderful service for us. I was in touch with him constantly, which was a nice change. Even the comparables we got from him were great. We had to do all that ourselves in the past.”

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