Posted by: jgomori Posted date: September 15, 2022
By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor
The POLC and GELC were able to bring home some amazing increases for four units in Dickinson County with the help of a wage comparison study.
The Employer sought the wage study, which determined several Employees were being paid less than others in neighboring communities. The Unions negotiated with the County, which resulted in substantial wage increases for Dickinson County Patrol & Dispatch, Dickinson County Command Officers, Dickinson County Corrections Officers and some Dickinson County General Employees.
The POLC and GELC negotiated four-year agreements with additional 2 percent wage increases each year of the contracts in addition to the wage bumps based on the study. For Command, that amounted to a 20% increase effective Jan. 1, 2022; Patrol & Dispatch received 18 percent; and Corrections got a 12.5 percent boost in pay the first year.
“Dickinson County did a wage study over the past year and that wage study showed where they should be,” said POLC/GELC Labor Rep. John Stidham said. “That increased their wages considerably. On top of that, they gave them another two percent. It definitely benefited the Employees and the County too because they can now retain people, hopefully.”
Determining average raises across the board for Dickinson County General Employees was complicated due to the sheer number of types of positions in that unit. The wage study impacted each job classification differently.
“Increases were based on their jobs and the wage assigned to those jobs after the study was completed. Some of their people got much higher than 2 percent in first year,” said Stidham, who negotiated all the contracts. “The wage study increased the members’ wages up to 15 percent in the first year, with not every position receiving that large of an increase. Everybody got a guaranteed 2 percent on top of what that scale said they would be making in the first year.”
Command Local Union President Derek Dixon was thankful the County and POLC worked so well together. “Our County has been really fair with us,” Dixon said. “It was a very amicable negotiation, especially with the Command staff.”
The Command agreement resulted in pay raises every 6 months. “They broke it down every six months until Jan. 2025, then we will be at the full amount of the study plus the two percent on top of that,” Dixon said. “At the end of the contract they gave us a $9,000 raise from where we were before the contract. (Typically) you might have the base wage go up $4,000, where this one went up $9,000!”
Dickinson County Deputy Chris Smith, Local Union President for Patrol and Dispatch, touted the POLC for bringing Dispatch wages up to par. “The wage study really didn’t benefit Dispatch that well – about $1,000 a year for them. It was very minimal,” Smith said.
Stidham successfully negotiated increasing Dispatch wages to 80 percent of Patrol’s wages. Patrol’s wages jumped 18 percent in 2022, so that gave Dispatch a significant boost which should improve retention. Dispatchers were flocking to Dickinson County Courthouse for better paying positions from security to secretarial.
“We have lost quite a few Dispatchers to Courthouse positions,” Smith said. “Over time … they were losing so much ground. If you get a 2 percent wage increase, it just really wasn’t enough. Keeping it at that 80 percent of the Road Patrol wage bumps them up above those Courthouse positions. We knew we wanted to keep them above Courthouse people. That just makes sense with all the responsibilities they have.”
The public safety groups also received significant increases in uniform allowances. Corrections uniform allowance increased from $205 to $250 per quarter. “We doubled our uniform allotment from $205 to $400 per quarter,” Dixon said of Command, Patrol and Dispatch. “We’re very fortunate here with our County Administrator and the Board. We’ve always been reasonable with our requests as well.”
All public safety groups received a $100 a month increase – from $300 to $400 – for Employees opting out of medical coverage.
“We had several small things that all added up to more money,” Smith said of Patrol and Dispatch. “With different Call-in pay, if you’re forced to come in, you can potentially get double time in certain situations.”
Command was granted Overtime (OT) pay without stipulations. Previously, they could not use Sick Time in conjunction with OT and there was an 80-hour minimum. “If you worked 72 hours and you used 8 hours of Sick Time, you would get straight time until you worked 80 hours,” Dixon said of the prior requirement. “Anytime we work Overtime it is pretty much mandatory with Command. Anytime I work Overtime, it is Overtime now at the Overtime rate.”
“We’ve been very happy since switching to the POLC,” Dixon said of their membership since about 2008. “We were with the Wisconsin-based Union prior, but we’ve had nothing but good luck with the POLC. “They’re good at getting back to you and answering your questions. We’re in the Upper Peninsula and (the POLC Reps.) do make a point of swinging in whenever they’re around here to say, ‘Hi.’”