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: 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.