January 2021 Union Update

Social Media

I have said it before, and I will say it again: DO NOT comment on LE issues on social media. Your opinions are valuable and worthwhile, but nothing good will come out of making social media comments. In the current political climate, there are people on both sides looking to make trouble for LEO’s. Please, do not give them an opportunity. DO NOT COMMENT OR LIKE POLITICAL/SOCIAL ISSUES ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS.


I think the current unrest in the US Capitol has shown the dangers of social media posts. As this plays out, no doubt there will be more LEO’s that end up being suspended, if not terminated, for their participation in the events that transpired. I cannot stress this enough: keep your views to yourself. We are in positions of public trust. We all have our views and opinions. I urge you to keep them private or it could cost you your career.


FLSA/ULP Issues

The OT back pay issue continues to wind its way through the legal process. The state has provided most of the discovery materials we requested. There are a few items that the attorneys are going back and forth over.


We currently have two ULP’s filed against the state. The first deals with management changing schedules for employees that do not follow the negotiated agreements. Basically, in the unions view management cannot pick and choose what members of the bargaining unit have better schedules. According to Tim, if you and your supervisor agree for you to have every weekend off that’s fine and dandy for everyone involved. That sounds bizarre, but Tim did say it while under oath during the WERC hearing.

The second ULP deals with the IM 2-20 residency change from June. Management’s contention is residency is 100% in their realm to decide. Based on that logic, they could potentially force folks to live within a mile of their assignment. I am not saying they would ever do that, just throwing the extreme out to show how absurd their logic is.


The FLSA/OT issue is being heard in Milwaukee County Circuit Court and the ULP’s were heard by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.


Bargaining

We continue to bargain with the state on the next CBA. The agreement signed into law by Gov. Evers early last year is still in full force and effect while we negotiate the successor agreement.


We are getting closer to completing the negotiations. There are a few language items being requested by management that are slowing the process, and of course the work on a wage adjustment. The GWA’s that non-reps received will be part of our eventual contract. Much like in the past, we do not receive the GWA’s until our contract is in place. We have been trying to speed the process by forgoing actual meetings and simply exchanging offers by email. Our next formal meeting is set for January 21st.


I know everyone would like to get to the point where we have a contract in effect that is not expired by the time the ink dries. In the 23 plus years I have been a trooper we have never had a contract settle before the prior contract “expired”. The closest I can recall was in 1997 when the contract settled several months into the biennium. In the past decade, we all know that has extended to ridiculous lengths to the detriment of recruitment, retention, and morale.


Hours of Work

We are working with management to come up with a better schedule for the agency. This is not our first attempt and it seems like I have been pushing for this forever with nothing to show. The next meeting is scheduled for Jan 20th.


It is not a simple process to make changes to the schedule. I am not aware of a trooper who is currently in DSP that has utilized a different schedule. We schedule the way we do, because it’s the way it has always been done.


We have several limitations that preclude the use of most potential schedules, in my view.

• Peoplesoft- When an employee works fewer than 80 hours a pay period, we see some issues with proper leave amounts being credited. This applies to vacation and sick leave accrual. This is not automatically fixed when the employee then earns more hours in the adjacent pay period.

• Overtime- Because of the way the state calculates OT we need a schedule that keeps us at 40/wk and 80/pp. Many scheduling options are light in one week and heavy in the second.

If you have a schedule that you think is stellar please send it to wleaconcerns@gmail.com and we will be happy to look at it. Based on the conversations and surveys that have bounced around over the years there is a clear consensus that a large majority would like something different than the current schedule.


I thank all of you that responded to Restrepo’s survey. We were able to achieve a greater than 80% response rate. Based on the survey results and the work we have put into the process there are several items that are of critical importance for this to work;

• 24/7 employees, at the least, need to have a fixed and repeating schedule. It is reasonable for an employee to look ahead six months and know what weekends they have off.

• There needs to be a 4th weekend in the 56 day period. Without the 4th weekend, working a compressed schedule would mean a trooper is working MORE hours on the weekends. That is not an acceptable option.


Closing

The union is strong when we work together towards the common goals of improving our wages, hours, and conditions of employment. We will always have Blue Falcons among us who attempt to ingratiate themselves with management by hosing their buddies. Ignore them. They generally do not promote very high because management does not trust them either... surprise, surprise.


We need to work towards the future of what this agency will be 10, 15, or 30 years from now. Those are all dates that I will be retired for. I could look at them as “it’s not my problem”. However, when I am nearing the end of my days on this wonderful world, I would like to see that this agency, my agency, is still there and making important contributions to the citizens of Wisconsin. I do not know what that will entail, but I can guarantee it will not be the agency’s shortsighted, and unrelenting focus on alcohol, speed, and seatbelts (A.S.S.). It is what the agency was created for, yes, but times change.


With lightning-fast advances in tech, it is no longer science fiction to imagine autonomous vehicles in our future. This agency needs to keep eyes on the horizon. We do not want to be swamped and distracted by short-sighted concerns while our agency inches toward oblivion. We need to keep nimble, move into niches and make them ours to grow in. On that note, if you have any innovative ideas or contributions, please share them with us at wleaconcerns@gmail.com.


Stay safe,


Chad Thompson

WLEA President

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