December 17, 2021
By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor
The breaking point for St. Clair County Corrections Officers came when their former Union’s international group began throwing their support behind anti-police organizations. That’s when many of the group’s 110-members stopped paying dues and started looking for other representation. Police Officers Labor Council (POLC) fit the bill, providing law enforcement centered services.
St. Clair County Corrections Officers voted to join POLC in August after being represented by Teamsters Local 214 for about six years.
“It was in the last year they started supporting some anti-policing groups – not the locals, the international group,” said Justin Wilton, St. Clair County Corrections Officers Local Union Vice President. “We were looking for someone that just represented law enforcement. We provided a few (Union) options for our members and we had a vote and this is the direction our group wanted to go.”
With their existing contract expiring Dec. 31, 2021, the POLC didn’t waste any time preparing to negotiate their new agreement. Issues St. Clair County Corrections Officers would like to address include pay raises, retirement, and some safety concerns.
“One thing we’re going to try to change is retirement health care for those who have 25 (years) and out,” Wilton said of Employees with defined benefit plans. “The County says you have to be at least 50 (years old) to receive full retirement health care. We have a few people who will get to 25 years (of service) before age 50, so they won’t be able to retire and draw retiree health care.”
Bringing in qualified new staff to the department has been a problem the Corrections Officers would like to resolve through improved benefits. “We are trying to increase the County match for the defined contribution plan to make the profession more attractive to younger generations,” Wilton said.
The group’s experience with POLC thus far has been positive. He described the Union as “very organized” with “easy communication.” “Our Rep has been easy to get a hold of,” Wilton said in September. “We’ll see where it goes. We will start negotiations pretty quick.”
One thing they know for certain is the POLC has the best interests of law enforcement at heart and the experience necessary to properly represent St. Clair County Corrections Officers.