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Old 11-14-2012, 21:43   #1
Gills63
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New to the Union Rep. Game

So I'm my departments union rep. First time doing it. Got contract coming up, as well has a fellow losing his job. Any tips, hints, or other advice?

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Old 11-14-2012, 23:08   #2
blueiron
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Get this book and study it until you can just about quote it!

http://www.iptm.org/webstore/p-74-th...h-edition.aspx

It is available with free shipping from Amazon or in a used version here:



Read up on the LEOBoR [Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights for your State and here:

http://www.grandlodgefop.org/legisla...br/index.shtml

Know and be able to express what is in Garrity v. New Jersey (1967) and Gardner v. Broderick (1968).

Read up on any applicable State statutes regarding employment law and the law enforcement professional standards in your State.

Go to any training you can get, including IA training. Network with as many police labor attorneys and police labor organizations as possible.

Good luck.
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Old 11-15-2012, 00:10   #3
Gills63
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Thanks for the information, Ill be sure to check it all out.

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Old 11-15-2012, 01:59   #4
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Go to all the union workshops that the organizations put up for representing public workers. I know there are tons of them offering those things like SEIU, AFL-CIO, USW, etc. You can learn a lot about being a good rep. Just leave the politics alone. Don't get involved in politics. You are there to protect rights, not get into dirty politicking.
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Old 11-15-2012, 06:21   #5
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I'll second blueiron's book recommendation. It's a must read for anyone working in this field!
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Old 11-15-2012, 09:17   #6
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Fight for your officers, but don't make it personal with the admin; it's just business and you are doing your job. Know the relevant law, policies and contract inside and out. Educate your officers - if they know the process and their rights, their stress level can go down and sometimes they can resolve issues with little fuss. If an officer really did something bad and has it coming, do what you are required to do, but keep the integrity of yourself, your agency and the profession first. Some guys do need to be kicked to the curb. If you find yourself taking cases too personally and it is affecting your home life or job performance, be ready to find a replacement or at least assistant.
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Old 11-15-2012, 09:19   #7
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Make sure you have a qualified labor attorney proofreading your tentative agreements. We use an attorney as our lead negotiator during collective bargaining sessions, but we're a big lodge. That's not always practical for smaller bargaining units, but at the very least pay to have one look over your contract before your members vote on it. And don't just go cheap with one of your co- worker's brother-in- laws who mostly does wills and probate court. Ask around and pay for somebody who really understands public employee contract bargaining.

Know your current contract backwards and forwards. Nothing is more embarrassing than thinking your agreement says one thing when it says another.

Keep your Members expectations reasonable. They're not going to get double digit COLAs in this economy. Public employee unions are the bad guys right now and that includes public safety. We're still in a period of contraction from the good ol' days right after 9/11 when the public was eager to throw money at us. Be prepared for concessions and it's never too early to start lowering your members' expectations in advance of negotiations.

At the same time, know what you're worth. Make sure you're comparing your pay and benefits to departments or agencies that are actually like yours. Avoid the temptation to cherrypick only highly paid departments of your size in your area. Also, make sure you compare the total benefits package for the other agencies, not just pay for this one and health insurance for this other one.

Prioritize your benefits and know in advance which benefit will be sacrificed to protect another if necessary. Don't give up longterm benefits, like various retirement benefits, for short term gains in take- home pay. Educate your members to play the long game.

When bargaining starts, divide the articles into non- financial and financial issues. Work to get tentative agreements on as many of the non- financial issues as you can first and get them off of the table so you won't be tempted to give up important conditions of work or employee rights for monetary gain.

Keep track of your proposals and counterproposals by date and time. You need to be able at the end of the bargaining session to show how the negotiations evolved on each issue, including the union's opening position, the employer's opening postion, and counter proposals back and forth.

Read every proposal and counter- proposal from the employer carefully word for word. Words matter. Everytime the employer proposes a change to existing language ask yourself "Why do they propose that this be worded this specific way? What could be the hidden implications of using the word they've chosen instead of this similar word?" This is really where you want to have a lawyer looking over your shoulder.

Like others have said, read, read, and read some more about labor practices. Know your contract's strengths and weaknesses. Make an honest assessment of what you can expect your union's level of support from the general public will be if negotiations go south.
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Old 11-15-2012, 10:29   #8
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Your fellow officers will do stupid ****, and expect you to get them out of trouble. When you can't/don't, you'll be called everything but your own name. I've had them straight out lie to me about issues, and STILL expect me to get them out of trouble.

It's one of the reasons I don't do the rep stuff anymore, unless absolutely necessary. I am our union lobbyist, which is sure to rub someone the wrong way. I'm also chair of our legislative committee - I've even met Dukeboy in Frankfort before.

I assume McGruff is still running the lobby for you guys? And is Chuck still around? Last I heard, he was on his way to the Feds.
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Old 11-15-2012, 11:47   #9
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Originally Posted by Gills63 View Post
So I'm my departments union rep. First time doing it. Got contract coming up, as well has a fellow losing his job. Any tips, hints, or other advice?

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Put your flame resistant coat on brother, America ****ING hates the unions right now.
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They made bad choices and expect us to pay the price? I don't think so, Tim.
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Old 11-15-2012, 12:28   #10
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Protect your guys and make reasonable requests of the dept. Don't extort your employer for money like many unions do. If you already make a fair wage for your area, don't go ape requesting huge raises.
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Old 11-15-2012, 12:53   #11
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I wouldn't worry about the collective opinions of the American public. They re-elected an self proclaimed union supporter, for better or worse.Nonetheless, being a union representative is not about collective bargaining or party politics. It should be exclusively about properly representing the membership when they are correctly or wrongfully charged with a violation of policy.

A rep has a moral, professional, and legal obligation to properly represent and defend the workplace interests of the membership. Whether a rep is elected, volunteers, is selected, etc., the rep has to do their best to defend the membership against wrongful, discriminatory, or capricious acts of supervisors, managers, and executives.

A rep and the accused employee must have a relationship akin to an attorney-client. When the violation[s] were administrative in nature, I always told anyone that I represented that they must be wholly honest with me about all aspects of the violation[s]. If they were charged with a criminal violation, I deferred whole knowledge of the allegation, because I was not protected by attorney-client protections, but I would defend their workplace interests, while the attorney looked after the criminal complaint.

One will encounter members who are untruthful. As a labor organization, we were still obligated to defend their interests, but the facts and evidence were documented, and the member informed that untruthfulness could lead to sanction.

Some members have unrealistic expectations of what a rep can do. If a member voluntarily misses several Court appearances and gets jammed for it, a rep can only ensure that the investigation is objective and that any discipline is commensurate with the policy violation and its repetition, if any. One cannot play 'Let's Make a Deal' with admin, even if that is what is expected of the rep or the organization. It would be unethical and unfair.

Never play favorites and never fail to adequately represent a member. I had to rep a couple of officers that I personally and professionally detested, but they paid their dues and they deserved the representation. One was uneventful and the other required a hearty defense of excessive discipline because of a prejudiced executive. Keep in mind that the organization and the rep can be sued for lack of representation and related complaints. Since these allegations are employment related, they can quickly destroy a labor unit, poison a department, and cost enormous amounts of cash.

The working private sector is not pleased with public sector renumeration, but leave that to the labor organization, the department, and the employing government. Nothing can be done by one employee that will effectively reform it.
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Old 11-15-2012, 13:16   #12
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Put your flame resistant coat on brother, America ****ING hates the unions right now.
American hates them more now, but there was never an universal love for them.

Even when I was in an union, I hated them. Never done nothing for me. Didn't need them because I did my job. Took my hundred bucks a month to defend the slugs and snails and drove up our legal costs through the roof.
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Old 11-15-2012, 13:43   #13
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American hates them more now, but there was never an universal love for them.

Even when I was in an union, I hated them. Never done nothing for me. Didn't need them because I did my job. Took my hundred bucks a month to defend the slugs and snails and drove up our legal costs through the roof.
Sure you did, so do I, but you must admit that you owed your insurance rates, your pay rate, your overtime, special duty, your work hours, security from being bumped from shift to shift on a whim, uniform allowance, uniform replacement, etc, etc, to the contract that your union bargained for.

Do we defend retards, sure. We defend against the process, but I will readily admit that it is GENERALLY only the retards that need protection from that process. With that said, I have worked for chiefs who had serious psychological problems. I rest a little more comfortably knowing that these people don't have unilateral, unchecked control over the entire department.
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Old 11-15-2012, 13:50   #14
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I assume McGruff is still running the lobby for you guys? And is Chuck still around? Last I heard, he was on his way to the Feds.
He'll be running the lobby for us for at least one more year. We're probably going to have a big pension fight in Frankfort this Spring.

Chuck managed to get his Federal hook up through McConnell, so he's in D.C. a lot more now.
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Old 11-15-2012, 13:55   #15
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With that said, I have worked for chiefs who had serious psychological problems. I rest a little more comfortably knowing that these people don't have unilateral, unchecked control over the entire department.
You and I both, brother!
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Old 11-15-2012, 14:34   #16
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It sucks having to defend the screw ups, I'll admit. Competent, hard working people don't usually need our services for "big" disciplinary stuff. There are still plenty of mundane adminstrative matters and SNAFUs that are just as likely to hit the righteous as they will the unrighteous.

When it comes to the "big," WTF- were-you- thinking, semi- criminal (or even straight up criminal) situations, around here the FOP is more likely to want the offender punished harder than the admin does. Same thing with hiring and promotional standards. The admin is the side that's always coming around, wanting to get a letter agreement from us to lower the testing standards to get more people through the promotional process, for example.

I like to think that my union stands for high quality officers who are paid well for the services they perform and treated fairly according the contractual agreement that we all signed onto. I honestly believe that it's true for my department. The standards aren't slipping around here because the FOP thinks the bar needs to be lowered.
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Old 11-15-2012, 17:12   #17
lawman800
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Sure you did, so do I, but you must admit that you owed your insurance rates, your pay rate, your overtime, special duty, your work hours, security from being bumped from shift to shift on a whim, uniform allowance, uniform replacement, etc, etc, to the contract that your union bargained for.

Do we defend retards, sure. We defend against the process, but I will readily admit that it is GENERALLY only the retards that need protection from that process. With that said, I have worked for chiefs who had serious psychological problems. I rest a little more comfortably knowing that these people don't have unilateral, unchecked control over the entire department.
Nope. Don't owe my insurance rates to them, unless you mean, driving up the insurance rates because the retards lawyer up every single time they mess up... which is almost weekly. Calling our Legal Defense Fund lawyers every week gets expensive. Our rates went up 50% in one year. I never used it.

My pay rate has nothing to do with them. We got the same raises as everyone else, nothing more, nothing less. We're not the big dogs so we don't have much of a voice to argue about pay. Heck, our pay was so pathetic for a while that some janitorial people made more than us. Overtime was controlled by law. Nothing they could do about it.

Work hours sucked, no union protection there. Shift work was whenever, whatever. I got stuck on graves and had no say in how many days I worked it. The union guys didn't give a rip as long as they got their cush assignments during the weekday, dayshift of course, so they can continue sucking up to the chief.

Uniform allowance and whatnot... yeah, they did a little bit, but again, the law requires the issuance of all uniforms/equipment that we are mandated to wear/carry, so no big to do there either.

We had megalomaniacal chiefs and administrators... sure, everyone experiences that in this career, but guess what... I do my job, I show up on time, do my work, I don't make any noise, and go home. Never had problems there, even with crazy brass.

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I like to think that my union stands for high quality officers who are paid well for the services they perform and treated fairly according the contractual agreement that we all signed onto. I honestly believe that it's true for my department. The standards aren't slipping around here because the FOP thinks the bar needs to be lowered.
I would like to think that too. That is the ideal we all strive for. It just doesn't always work that way.
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Old 11-15-2012, 18:10   #18
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Know your contract inside and out ALSO do a very thorough vetting of the officer losing his job..
You are there to make sure his rights are not violated stick to that, you don't want any surprises coming up about the good officer and his case.
Even though you are the rep I am sure you have attorneys on retainer for disciplinary hearing ,use them.

The contracts are tougher I sat on the union side for three years and was rewarded whn promoted by sitting on the citys side,, kinda a payback..

Have your comperable agency information available and do your best listen to your members.
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Old 11-15-2012, 19:46   #19
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Read your current contract and read your Code of Ethics from cover to cover.

That said - I worked both sides of the union table. Last 10 years as management. Union steward for 5 years.

Lot's of stress, particularly when rank and file was under AFSCME bargaining.

Don't take anything said during a grievance meet personal. For first several grievance meets with staff member and management, go in with an EXPERIENCED steward as observer.

Avoid collective bargaining contract meets for now 'cause if you screw up you will make enemies of coworkers for life.

And, good luck.
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Old 11-15-2012, 21:42   #20
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Originally Posted by blueiron View Post
Get this book and study it until you can just about quote it!

http://www.iptm.org/webstore/p-74-th...h-edition.aspx

It is available with free shipping from Amazon or in a used version here: The Rights of Law Enforcement Officers: Will Aitchison: 9781880607244: Amazon.com: Books

Read up on the LEOBoR [Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights for your State and here:

http://www.grandlodgefop.org/legisla...br/index.shtml

Know and be able to express what is in Garrity v. New Jersey (1967) and Gardner v. Broderick (1968).

Read up on any applicable State statutes regarding employment law and the law enforcement professional standards in your State.

Go to any training you can get, including IA training. Network with as many police labor attorneys and police labor organizations as possible.

Good luck.
Exactly what I was going to suggest.
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