For the past few years, this union has been attempting to defend itself from an assault of unilateral actions exhibited by the state and its subordinates. Many in our workplace have witnessed the hijacking of what had been mutually agreed upon workplace policies governing the Wisconsin State Patrol workplace for several decades. The hijacking of the mutually agreed upon policies left the workplace floundering in an attempt to feel its way through what had been commonly understandable processes such as vacation selection, shift selections, overtime policies, hours of work and other common issues affecting the workplace.
With the recent stream of new Troopers and Inspectors entering the workplace, the workplace is beginning to fill with employees that have no previous understanding of union representation or the Union’s function in the workplace. It has been difficult to effectively define the Union’s function in the workplace for the new employees filling the Wisconsin State Patrol’s ranks as the union finds itself fighting and fending off attacks from the state with railroading efforts to compel ACT 150 work rules into the workplace and onto the membership of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association (WLEA).
As the Union’s membership has witnessed and endured the assault by the state and its subordinates, veteran members and new members have questioned the actions by management as it attempts to levy newly developed policies seemingly arbitrary in nature and lacking uniform application into the workplace and upon the WLEA membership. Some recent recruit class graduates have found themselves facing their career mortality as they have found themselves contemplating termination or resignation as a solution to settling accused policy violations. What the state is required to do isn’t always what an employee may think and it isn't always done the way an employee thinks it “should be.” One thing that has always been frustrating when listening to the majority of the membership is that we really want to believe the state has our best interest at heart, in spite of what we witness with our own eyes. Actually, the state has the state's best interest at heart. The state takes actions based on its own agenda. If the welfare of the state employee is at risk, very commonly it is treated as collateral damage. The state and its subordinates will move on and demand that we move on as it strings together some patchwork remedies to cover flawed policies, projects, budgets and ill-advised programs.
From the day we are hired, we are viewed as possible liabilities and the state is looking to limit its liability related to us. They will leverage all of its assets against us actually if they deem it necessary. All of the training officers can be used to testify against us if any of the state's representatives view any actions we have taken as a liability in a lawsuit or complaint. Therefore, any coverage, protection, or support you do or don't get will depend on that. The growing atmosphere of hostile workplace policies and the public thirst for litigation has created a growing desire on the part of many members for legal insurance protection and coverage. This Union is not a union that has administrative staffing in place. The union dues are not dues that would support such administrative staffing, but the need for our membership is clearly present. Having the ability to anticipate and take action on the tactics the state has initiated against this workforce requires this union to make changes in its ability to support its membership.
On December 4, 2017, the WLEA Board of Directors made a unanimous decision to potentially partner with and pursue membership in the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). The FOP has proven to be the most capable organization for accommodating the needs of this union and its membership. The FOP has a solid track record with representing its members on multiple levels of state and municipal governments across the nation. They have valuable experience and resources, successfully providing legal representation (Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD) and support for its members as well as successful contract negotiations. What they have to offer our membership is stable, secure and tested over the years.
Ultimately, it is up to you the members to make this decision. Union dues will increase as a result of partnering with the FOP. However, based on the current social and political climate, it is necessary to expand and strengthen protections for the membership. Union board members and FOP representatives will be visiting regional areas around the state to inform members about the FOP and answer any questions. Tentative dates scheduled are February 26, 27, 28, 2018. The specific locations and dates/times will be provided soon.
President Tracy Fuller