by Jim Tignanelli
The new year started like “open season” on those of us being served by collective bargaining agreements. Once we saw it starting in Wisconsin and Ohio, the natural presumption was Michigan would be right behind. And those presumptions were correct. Term limits among our state legislators has created a challenge for both our lobbyists and our legislative director, Ken Grabowski. While term limits have been around since the late 1990’s, each year has presented a new freshman class of elected officials. Most, or all are well intended but many are motivated by a particular issue that has disturbed them prior to their arrival. Many others are uninformed about matters being consid- ered. The matter of “collective bargaining” took top billing among media outlets. When I asked a legislator what that term meant, he/she immedi- ately related to how an arbitrator can “impose their will” on a local gov- ernment. When I said that collective bargaining is when two parties dis- cuss issues which are ultimately ratified by the approval of both parties, he/she appeared to have seen a ghost. The impetus to repeal Public Act 312 seemed to evolve among a num- ber of people that did not know that nearly 2/3 of the time the award goes to the employer. When asked why an employer would want the repeal of an act that has eliminated strikes by police officers and has resulted in an award favoring the employer 2/3 of the time, the moods seemed to change. The sub-committee meeting in Lansing was an interesting afternoon and those that presented were informative. Both Ken and Bill Birdseye have done a yeoman’s job of working with the persons closest to the issue and I am confident that the end result will be one we can live with. I would like to offer a public thanks to the POAM executive board for their professional participation in Lansing. Later that day, nearly 70 of your elected legislators came to a reception sponsored by the POAM and facilitated by Michigan Legislative Consul- tants. A great deal of information was shared that afternoon and you can be proud of the POAM’s influence. I do believe it is worth repeating a conversation I have been having with many of the groups that I service for POAM. There are two pri- mary sources of revenue that we deal with. One directly emanates from property assessments. The other is a local government’s share of “state shared revenues”. Essentially, this is provided by formula and is a share of sales tax collected throughout the state. Neither is in abundance at this time. When you add that to the reduced interest being earned by pension plans and the increases in health care, patience is a great virtue to have at negotiations. Working for a bankrupt employer is no fun. Thoughtful and creative bargaining ideas are a necessary part of our times. Ignoring what is obvious to everyone else (less revenue), just complicates things. You all deserve more. You do. In the past week, two more of our fellow officers were shot and killed while working. You deserve more. Your POAM business agents can be relied on for new and better ways to pre- serve the benefits you have while working to find new ways to keep you safe, healthy and headed to your retirement. Please be safe.