A series of bills were introduced last week (February 7-11, 2011) that will have a potentially devastating impact on police officers and public employees.
The proposed legislation includes, but is not limited to, eliminating compulsory arbitration rights for police officers, giving financial emergency managers the right to alter collective bargaining agreements, and the ability for local governing units to set up right-to-work zones.
POAM’s Legislative Director, Kenneth E. Grabowski, and our lobbyist, Tim Ward from Michigan Legislative Consultants, have already contacted a number of legislators and are conducting an educational program to inform legislators on the impact that these bills will have on public employees and the citizens that we serve.
All members must contact their State Representatives and Senators and inform them of the long-term impact this legislation will have on Michigan’s economy and its loyal, hard working employees. Remind them of the give-backs and concessions that local unions have negotiated with their employers for the last five years while your local unit’s workload has increased with less employees. POAM will be updating our web site with the latest information and strategies to protect our members.
Summary of House and Senate Bills
House Bill 4205
The Emergency Financial Manager Bill
March 2, 2011
This bill is on fast track for passage. POAM is attempting to remove section that will eliminate your PERA rights for up to 5 years by EFM. Again, it is important to contact your State Representative and Senator. Advise them police oficers need to have their basic non economic rights protected, even if a government has been placed under EFM. Retaining these basic right does not stop an EFM from controlling and repairing a government’s finances.
UPDATE ON H.B. 4205 (REPEAL ACT 312) AND S.B. 153
February 28, 2011
Over the past two weeks, POAM Legislative Director Kenneth E. Grabowski and the entire POAM Executive Board have worked with our lobbyist, Tim Ward from Michigan Legislative Consultants, to meet with House representatives and Republican leaders to educate them on the history and practical applications of Public Act 312 and ways to improve the legislation. Extensive work was done on the web site, www.poam.net, to assist members in e-mailing any and all Senators and their Representatives.
Although POAM encourages all police officers and public employees to have their voice heard in a venue that is comfortable to them, we have chosen to work behind the scenes and establish a serious dialogue with most of the legislators that will be determining the fate of current legislation and its impact on your careers.
The entire POAM Executive Board attended committee hearings on H.B. 4205 on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 and greeted legislators later that day at the annual POAM Legislative Reception at Troppo’s Restaurant, directly across the street from the state capitol.
At the reception, POAM executives had the opportunity to speak with a majority of our legislators on these very important issues to police offices. Many legislators asked for more in-depth information on the subject – a good sign to POAM and its members.
Senate Bill 153, also known as the “Emergency Financial Manager Bill,” has had some recent activity as well. The bill would give increased powers to any Emergency Financial Manager, including the ability to modify or shelf current collective bargaining agreements. The bill, as originally written, had very strong language that would severely penalize local politicians who had mismanaged their community’s finances and had to call on the state’s help. That language was recently removed and POAM is lobbying for new appropriate language that would discourage the implementation of a financial manager, except in severe cases. POAM also steadfastly believes that in these rare occasions, the non-economic issues in a collective bargaining agreement, such as just cause, seniority, etc., should remain in place. Our dialogue will continue with your state senators.
We are insisting that members contact their state representatives and senators on these issues and keep the pressure on. A vote to repeal Act 312 and totally shred current CBA’s is a vote against police officers. Go to www.poam.net and click on the post-it note on its home page for instructions and more information to assist you. We will be posting frequently asked questions and their answers on this subject beginning February 28th. In the meantime, do not hesitate to call POAM’s Service Director, Ed Jacques, personally at 313-937-9000.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: Will state troopers be affected by a repeal of Act 312?
A: No. Their right to collective bargaining is granted by the Michigan Constitution, there by exempting the group.
Q: Can an Emergency Financial Manager change pay and benefit levels for DROP employees?
A: Possibly. Any vested and accrued pension at the time of retirement should be protected.
Q: Is a non-vested employee’s pension at risk under an EFM?
A: Possibly.Any monies contributed directly from an employee to the pension would be protected. An EFM will have great latitude to change pension systems, modify multipliers, or roll accrued money into a 401k. POAM General Counsel Frank Guido believes that is unlikely, or will be the last weapon in an EFM’s arsenal because there will be many more easily accessible targets, and the Michigan Constitution does have language that protects public employee pensions and existing contracts.
Q: As of February 28, 2011, what is the current status of H.B. 4205?
A: As of this update, the steamroller pushing the repeal of 312 has slowed down. Our members’ letters, e-mails and phone calls by the hundreds to our elected officials have helped. The education process is beginning to take hold, and many of Michigan’s elected leaders are not in favor of a complete repeal of 312. Additionally, Governor Snyder has come forward and made it clear that he is not in favor of the repeal, and is more interested in working with public unions than attempting to destroy them as other states are trying.
Q: In other proposed legislation, Emergency Financial Managers will have greater authority. Can they amend a current collective bargaining agreement?
A: Yes. There is a strong consensus in Lansing that municipalities teetering on bankruptcy should get immediate help through an empowered financial manager. POAM is insisting that politicians that have caused the problem and are seeking a bailout be severely penalized. We are adamant that other strong criteria be met so local politicians do not have an easy bailout from their mistakes. POAM is also stressing that the non-economic issues in a contract remain in place under any Emergency Financial Manager.
Q: Can an Emergency Financial Manager change retiree benefits?
A: Your pension is protected. However, if the contract in which an employee retired under calls for the same health coverage that active employees receive, you may very well be at risk.