by William Birdseye

It’s been a long time coming and on the day that I write this column for the Law Enforcement Journal, POAM has not yet been certified as the official bargaining agent for Wayne County Deputies. But, that day will come soon and when it does, members need to know what to expect from their new Union. And I might add, what their leaders can learn from our extensive experience.

In essence, Local 502 has been operating as its own independent Association, with no oversight. That has forced many of your previous leaders to “wing it” on important union matters, including negotiating new collective bargaining agreements. Your previous status has led to the isolation of your group because of no real networking with other significant local police unions and the training that’s necessary to be an effective advocate for employees.

The good news is that is about to change and fast. Legitimate grievances will be processed promptly and followed through to their conclusion. All stewards will receive thorough and ongoing training. Communication to affected individuals and the group as a whole will be vastly improved. Your bargaining committee and POAM will be totally prepared and not bullied at the negotiating table, securing the best possible economic deal for members.

POAM support staff has already had numerous meetings with many of your colleagues and assisted in drafting proposed by-laws for your consideration and input. We have met with your current elected officers and agreed to work together as a transition team.

Office space and full use of our facilities will be made available to your leadership. Dave LaMontaine, Ken Grabowski, and I will be working extensively with your Executive Board and Stewards. It is our hope that other members, even if they are not serving on the executive board, will attend our ongoing training sessions and our annual convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan every June.

We appreciate your overwhelming vote of support and are anxious to start providing the expert representation that you all deserve. On behalf of our entire membership, welcome to the POAM!