In the fall of 2016, a consent election was held to determine whether the bargaining representative for Macomb County, Michigan Sheriff’s Department’s deputies and dispatchers should be changed. At the time, the employees were represented by the Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM). During the election campaign, the Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council (FOPLC) offered to decrease members’ monthly dues by approximately one-third and to provide assistance from its Legal Defense Plan at no added cost. By a vote of 108 to 13, the members decided to have the FOPLC replace POAM as their bargaining representative.
In a letter to POAM dated October 19, 2016, the FOPLC offered to assume the daily duties of representing the bargaining unit until December 31, 2016, when the collective bargaining agreement expired, in exchange for POAM agreeing to cease collecting dues. POAM did not respond to the FOPLC’s letter.
On November 9, 2016, the FOPLC sent a demand to the County, seeking to be immediately recognized as the Union’s bargaining representative. POAM responded by indicating its intention to fully perform its obligations under the CBA until it expired and expressed its expectation that the County do the same.
The FOPLC filed a petition with Employment Relations Commission, alleging that the County had engaged in an unfair labor practice by continuing to recognize POAM as the Union’s bargaining representative for the remainder of the CBA. When the Commission rejected the petition, the FOPLC challenged the decision in the Michigan Court of Appeals.
The Court upheld the Commission’s dismissal of the FOPLC’s petition. The Court ruled that “the Commission followed its line of authority consistently holding that a consent election that results in the replacement of a union’s representative while a CBA is still in effect does not change the obligations of the parties to the CBA. The employer is still obligated to collect and remit dues to the outgoing representative under the terms of the CBA unless the outgoing representative deems it appropriate otherwise. In this case, there is no dispute that POAM did not express an intent to discontinue its duties to members under the CBA for the remainder of the CBA’s term.
“The FOPLC primarily asserts that it cannot, or will not, provide legal representation to members until it receives dues. We disagree. Despite the election, POAM was obligated to continue to represent members during the transition period. The FOPLC admitted in its pleadings that the County allowed it to represent or assist members at investigatory meetings held during the transition period. The County did not prevent the FOPLC from representing Union members. If the FOPLC is unwilling to provide assistance to Union members because it is not receiving dues, that is a matter between the FOPLC and its members; it is not one that the County should involve itself in.”
Macomb County v. Michigan Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, 2019 WL 6888659 (Mich. Ct. App. 2019).
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