by Kenneth E. Grabowski

State Representative Richard LeBlanc (D-Westland), upon the request of POAM, has introduced H.B. 5796. This Bill will protect a union agent who has a representative relationship with a bargaining unit member to not be compelled to disclose in court or administrative action, arbitration or proceeding, whether civil or criminal, any information the union agent acquires in the course of his or her professional duties while acting in this capacity as a union representative. This legislation is important and should be supported by all POAM members. Under current law there are times when even your union representative should not participate in internal discussions because they do not have the same level of privilege that is provided as an attorney-client privilege. This legislation, if approved, would allow your union representative to act more freely in representing you in any course of business. It is important for you to contact Rep. LeBlanc and members of your state House and urge them to support H.B. 5796


POAM and the Deputy Sheriffs Association of Michigan (DSAM) have been working closely together in an attempt to correct the deficiency for correction officers who are currently unable to resolve any contract disputes through arbitration. We have been successful in having Representative Fred Miller introduce House Bill 6112, which would provide compulsory arbitration for correction officers. This bill has also been co-sponsored by Representatives Rick Jones, Mike Nofs, Kevin Elsenheimer, John Stakoe, Joel Sheltrown, David Palsrok, Chris Ward, David Law, Andrew Meisner, Barb Byrum, Mike Simpson, Matt Gillard and Gary McDowell.

The bill will streamline the settlement of labor disputes and will fulfill and enhance the following interest for the public. The bill stabilizes labor management relations between public employers and public correction officers through a binding procedure for resolution of labor disputes. The bill streamlines time limits and reduces exorbitant costs to both parties as has been experienced in Public Act 312 proceedings. The streamline procedures include but are not limited to: submission of final last offers of settlement during the pre-arbitration mediation. This would enable both parties to get serious and make their last best final offers during mediation instead of waiting till the final day of an arbitration process. The bill removes any costs from the state for financial payments. The bill reduces costs and delays by prohibiting briefs, requiring the parties to submit closing arguments and avoiding any litigation in court which would delay the arbitration process.

These streamlined procedures will eliminate the slow and cumbersome process currently used by police and fire unions. This bill will enable labor and management to reach settlements quicker for correction officers. The bill has successfully passed the House and will go before the Senate this fall. It is imperative that you contact your state senators and urge them to support House Bill 6112.