Livingston Dispatchers pleased with first GELC bargaining agreement
Posted by: jgomori Posted date: July 22, 2021
By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor
Livingston County 911 Dispatchers made the move to GELC for Union representation after hearing positive comments from Livingston County Sheriff’s Department Sergeants.
“They said they were really pleased with how negotiations went,” said Mary Reed, local Dispatchers Union President.
The Sheriff’s Sergeants switched representation to POLC, GELC’s sister Union, in 2019.
“Back in 2019, you could negotiate normally,” Reed said. “Last year was different for everyone. When we had to negotiate in Zoom meetings from home, it was definitely a different vibe and everything else.”
Livingston County Dispatchers, who were represented by Michigan Association of Public Employees (MAPE), made the move to GELC in October 2020. Their prior contract expired Dec. 31, 2020.
“Lloyd (Whetstone) had contacted me and asked if we had been interested in switching,” Reed said of the Union’s Membership Services representative. “There was a lot of different thoughts we had and thought maybe GELC would be a good choice at this time.”
The 24-member unit is used to seeing their Employees come and go. “It’s common – 911 is definitely one of the higher turnover jobs in all the jobs you could possibly have,” Reed said. “Some either go to other dispatch jobs with better benefits or some people just decide it’s not for them and leave and find other avenues of employment.”
GELC Labor Rep. Chet Kulesza helped the dispatchers reach a beneficial new agreement effective Jan. 1, 2021. The three-year contract, which expires Dec. 31, 2023, includes raises of 2 percent in year one and 1.5 percent in years two and three.
“I thought overall the negotiations went really well this time and we got mostly everything we asked for to some extent,” Reed said.
A Me-Too Clause was added to their contract to ensure Livingston County Dispatchers are fairly compensated. “If the County gave more to non-union Employees (during the contract) then they would give that raise to us as well,” Reed said.
The County sought elimination of the various premium pay rates due to difficulty keeping track of them all. Instead of some Employees losing the highest premium payments to come up with a universal amount, the Employer opted to roll the difference in the highest former premium increases into the base pay. That led to restructuring the pay scale with an additional $980 included in the new base pay.
While the Employer sought removal of the option to purchase Vacation Time, like they had done with some other County Employees, GELC enshrined that benefit in the agreement.
“They were taking that away from everybody, so we negotiated purchase of 40 hours of Vacation (per year) for the duration of new contract,” Reed said. “We have a set amount of Vacation – I get 20 days a year, but they let us purchase an additional 40 hours, which you pay for over the duration of the year. They wanted to get rid of it because some people would get the benefit and leave without paying for it over the course of the year.”
Employees who don’t use their extra purchased Vacation Hours are reimbursed at the end of the year under the new contract.