The Michigan Corrections Organization, Service Employees International Union, Local 526M, proudly represents nearly 7,000 Corrections Officers and Forensic Security Assistants working inside Michigan’s prisons and the Center for Forensic Psychiatry.
MCO is a statewide local with 33 chapters throughout the state. Each chapter has its own executive board consisting of a chapter president, vice president, recording secretary, chief steward and shift stewards.
Based on chapter membership, some of these officials become delegates who meet twice a year in a convention setting to set goals and conduct general union business. An Executive Board, elected from the Central Committee delegates, meets monthly and oversees the union’s direction between committee meetings. The statewide Executive Board consists of a president, vice president, secretary/treasurer, recording secretary and five trustees who also act as judiciary trustees.
In addition, MCO has an executive director who supervises staff in carrying out the direction of the delegates and/or MCO Executive Board. There are four labor relations representatives who assist in several areas including: contract negotiations; processing grievances; presenting arbitrations; attending labor/management meetings; attending chapter union meetings; meeting with the Michigan Department of Corrections and the Department of Community Health to resolve issues before they become grievances; providing benefits information; research; EEOC issues; ADA issues workers’ compensation; long term disability; and train and assist chapter officials. MCO also has a governmental and legislative affairs coordinator and four administrative support staff who perform a myriad of tasks for the daily operation of the union.
MCO participates and holds positions in a variety of union and task-related organizations such as: SEIU’s boards and committees; International Labor Communication Association; Michigan Labor Press; and the American Correctional Association — to name only a few.
MCO came into existence in 1968 when a group of Corrections Officers met to form an organization that would primarily focus on security and custody issues. In 1974, MCO affiliated with the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO. In 1979, MCO and AFSCME were successful in convincing Civil Service to authorize exclusive representation rights for employee organizations. MCO petitioned for a unit election and won handily over two other unions.
MCO negotiated its first contract in 1981. The first contract contained many innovative features that set the standard for other state employees.