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Feb 05, 2024

By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

City of Orchard Lake Village Employees is a smaller represented unit, but that doesn’t mean they should take a number when it comes to being heard. Unfortunately, that’s how they felt when their AFSCME Union Representative changed in 2022. 

“We got switched over to her from another guy at the beginning of the year,” said Michael Lee, City of Orchard Lake Employees Local Union Steward, of their American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Rep. “She wouldn’t return phone calls. She wouldn’t respond to our questions. It was an absolutely awful experience. We never even got a chance to meet her. It took her over a month to respond to my email and that email said ‘Call my cell.’” 

The six-member unit, made up of clerical and Department of Public Works (DPW) Employees, finally gave up. On Nov. 1, 2022, they unanimously elected the Governmental Employees Labor Council (GELC) to represent them after hearing plenty of good things about POLC/GELC Labor Rep. Chris Hild, who represents City of Orchard Lake Village Police Officers.

“One of my really close friends also works for the White Lake (Township) Police Department, and Chris represents them too,” Lee said. “Chris was the main reason why we switched because of the referrals he had.”

The payoff was swift and profitable. The group settled their first GELC-represented contract before the end of the year, receiving significant pay increases. Their new three-year bargaining agreement resulted in a whopping 21 percent increase in total pay for clerical staff, the Assistant City Clerk and the IT Specialist. They received the first 15 percent of that pay boost effective Jan. 1, 2023. 

“For the whole unit and myself, the best part of the contract was mainly the wage increases – especially getting our clerical staff up where they were supposed to be,” said Lee, the DPW Foreman, speaking of comparing clerical pay to neighboring cities. “We were all on the same page for the most part.”

The DPW Foreman received a noteworthy 12.5 percent raise in pay over the next three years, with a six percent increase effective Jan. 1, 2023. DPW Employees received a nine percent increase in pay over the contract term, which expires Dec. 31, 2025. The Employer also provided a $500 annual increase to each Employee’s Health Savings Plan, raising the contribution from $2,000 to $2,500. 

Lee described their unit’s experience with GELC as “fantastic” and said the entire negotiations process went smoothly.

“We’ve got no complaints. Honestly, Chris just did his thing and we were able to make a bunch of meetings happen in a short amount of time and everybody just agreed and life was good,” Lee said. “Our City Council has a lot of respect for Chris. He’s one of those guys that explains things to you so you understand. I’m not trying to say he’s Superman, but … Chris is very good at what he does.”

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