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Unique circumstances call for unique Union approach to contract

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: April 5, 2021


By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

Bloomfield Township Road Maintenance has worked well with management over the years with no representation, so when they decided to unionize, they were concerned about maintaining that good relationship.

The 21-member group found the perfect fit in the GELC. They joined the Union in early 2020 and have been impressed with the GELC’s ability to continue that friendly relationship while negotiating their first bargaining agreement.

“Management has really worked with us and it’s been a good relationship and very positive the Union management relationship,” said Local Union President Jerry Keller.

“We were kind of turned on (to the GELC) through the police officer representative,” Keller said. “We met with the different reps, the lawyer for the GELC and we liked what we heard.”

It didn’t take long to settle their first contract, which took effect April 1, 2020. “It has been short-term, but in terms of (GELC Labor Rep.) Jim Stachowski, it’s been good,” Keller said. “He’s been incredibly accessible. He’s been prompt. If we have questions, he’s getting right back to us. I’d say overall it’s been a very positive relationship.”

The GELC went to work right away to address the needs of their exclusive operation. “We have a road department which is incredibly unique for a township. I’m told we’re the only township in Michigan which has its own road department,” Keller said. “At some point Bloomfield Township residents weren’t happy with how Oakland County handled the roads, so they decided they wanted their own road department.”

However, that decision came with some challenges for workers. “Between Nov. 1 and April 15, it’s known you are on call. If it snows you have to come in,” Keller said. “We asked for some additional changes in some of the policies in regard to time off.”

The only way Bloomfield Township Road Maintenance Employees were able to take time off in the winter months was to have a co-worker cover their shift, which required management approval.

“We were able to get the guys a week off without having to go through the process of covering their shifts,” Keller said. “That obligation and that onus to get it covered is gone.”

They were pleased with the six-year contract term, which locked in pay increases, healthcare and retirement benefits. “The cost of living increases offset the insurance increases,” Keller said. “We were happy with the contract.”

Bloomfield Township Road Maintenance Employees have stability with their first contract and peace of mind knowing their Union works to create unity instead of division.

“Our experience has been good, pleasant, seamless,” Keller said. “It was a fairly smooth negotiation. The GELC has done a great job as far as we’re concerned and we’re very happy with what we’ve obtained by going with the GELC.”

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