By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor
In her 34-year law enforcement career with multiple agencies, Tittabawassee Township Police Officer Julie Nagel has been particularly impressed by one Union - the Police Officers Labor Council (POLC).
“We had POLC up in Gladwin County (Sheriff’s Dept.) when I was there and they still have them,” Nagel said. “You don’t just hear from them every three or four years when there’s a contract. It’s a very personal experience. I’ve always had good contact and success with their Union representation.”
The POLC even got Gladwin County Deputies, who had been terminated for unsubstantiated reasons, their jobs back. So, when Tittabawassee Township Full-time Patrol Officers decided to change Unions, they opted for POLC representation as soon as they could. Formerly represented by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) for over a decade, the group switched Unions in September 2022 in the middle of their contract.
“We were locked into a six-year contract. We had to wait until our three years were up,” Nagel said. “In April (2023), we’ll be down to two years left.”
In the meantime, FOP signed off on POLC taking over full representation of the group and Union members are pleased with the experience.
“We had everybody in the POLC in Gladwin – Corrections, Dispatch Supervisors and Deputies. We probably had around 50 members there,” she said. “Being in a six-man department still feels just as important with the representation we are currently getting with the agent we have. I think you need to treat small departments the same as those that have 50 to 100 officers. We want to feel that we are important and we mean something.”
Nagel, who began her career as a Part-Time Tittabawassee Police Officer in 1988, was hired full-time by Gladwin County Sheriff’s Department a few months later. Over the years, she’s worked part-time for other area departments. In 2004, she retired from Gladwin County Sergeant, under an excellent pension agreement negotiated by the POLC and returned to Tittabawassee as a Full-Time Officer.
“I always will favor POLC absolutely, but it was a unanimous Unit decision to switch to POLC,” said Nagel, the Local Union Chief Steward. “The department decided it was time for a change and everybody’s been extremely happy with POLC. They do everything in a timely manner, including getting us enrolled very rapidly in the legal defense insurance. You pay an extra $5 a month for the legal defense. To be honest with you, nobody in the department has ever heard of such a coverage prior to being represented by POLC. We have been very happy with the information that gets forwarded to us rapidly and the personal contact.”
POLC Labor Rep. Christopher Watts made quite an impression on the unit years before they joined. “(Chris) wasn’t our representative at the time, but the guy has constantly reached out, communicated and just checked in, seeing how things are going,” Nagel said. “He’s a caring person and maintains communication with the persons he represents or doesn’t represent. When I met Chris Watts, he also represented other departments that I know, so that was a factor in our decision for changing. They had nothing but positive things to say about POLC.”
“I represent Richland Township, Essexville Public Safety, Hampton Township (Police), Frankenmuth (Patrol) and several other units within Saginaw and Bay counties and I look forward to representing the members of Tittabawassee Township Police,” Watts said.
Nagel shared her personal experiences with POLC with her co-workers and noted that some of the new hires had never met their FOP Union representation. “There’s never been more of a time where strong Union representation is needed,” she said. “Officers want to be assured more than ever because of the change in times. Unfortunately, the trend in law enforcement is there just seems to be more police officers being prosecuted and criminally charged for doing their jobs. That’s why cops are retiring and not getting back into this field.”
“I think you’ll be seeing a lot of departments switching over (representation),” Nagel said. “They’re going to want more personal contact. They want to know they’ll be represented when the time comes. There’s not a doubt in my mind that POLC will represent us to the best of their ability if the need arises.”