Posted by: jgomori Posted date: September 29, 2022
By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor
Birmingham Command Officers were with their former union for over two decades, but major economic changes coupled with significant changes to law enforcement in recent years propelled them toward making a change of their own.
The seven-member unit parted ways with Command Officers Association of Michigan (COAM) and joined the POLC in April 2022.
“We just felt at this stage, with all the changes that are out there, it’s just a good time to check the market to see what fits our union and our issues,” said Birmingham Commander Chris Koch, President of the Local Command Union.
Koch said his group was impressed by the Police Officers Labor Council (POLC) presentation to their unit.
“The majority of the (Local) Union felt the best fit for Command was the POLC,” Koch said. “I think the presentation provided to them and the information given out really hit home with them. A lot of the feedback I got was they were very impressed with what (POLC Research Analyst) Nancy (Ciccone) brought to the table. The work she does comparing neighboring departments and putting together the paperwork, just having that resource available to us is fantastic.”
With their contract expiring the end of June, POLC Labor Representative Chris Hild immediately began arranging meetings with their Employer.
“I’m just jumping right into negotiations with them,” Hild said.
Hild’s expertise in labor relations gave the group the fresh perspective they needed on their existing bargaining agreement.
“When you’re with a union so long, you don’t go back and look at the older contract issues that might not even be relevant anymore,” Koch said. “It was nice to have someone do an overview and say these are relevant items and these are not relevant issues.
“Chris really has taken a close look at our contract and brought up a bunch of stuff we really need to focus on, areas we need to consider,” Koch said. “He has quite a bit of knowledge about our contract. He asked about areas he wasn’t familiar with, asking why things were in there. He took the time to listen to our needs and provide the best solutions moving forward with our contract concerns.”
Koch praised the City for providing Command with great retirement benefits.
“As you get into Command, the guys are getting older and looking toward the future of retirement,” Koch said. “They have taken care of us, providing good pensions and 401K. They do provide a very stable competitive retirement program. We just want to make sure that it’s secured moving forward when we make the transition out of police work. Obviously, with the rising costs of things, we want to stay in a situation that’s feasible for living costs.”
Birmingham Command Officers feel confident they have superior representation as they enter contract talks.
“I look forward to working with POLC and moving forward with our contract negotiations with the City,” he said. “Hopefully, it will be an opportunity to build a good relationship with the City of Birmingham and the POLC.”