10/10/23 MCO Update – Wage negotiations for final year of current contract

The MCO Executive Board entered negotiations focusing on three things that we believe are necessary to address the staffing crisis: increasing starting pay to $25 per hour, creating a new pay scale that hits top pay at the end of 3 years, and a double-digit base pay increase. MCO’s initial proposal was $25 per hour starting pay, a 3 year pay scale, and a 20% base pay increase. The state’s initial proposal was a 3% base pay increase. After several meetings and exchange of counter proposals, the state declined to discuss our proposals for increased starting pay and a 3 year pay scale. Their final proposal was a 5% base pay increase, a “ratification bonus” of $2,250 payable if the agreement was voted on and passed by the membership, and a Letter of Understanding that would “create” a new committee between MCO and MDOC to find solutions to the staffing crisis. Quite frankly, the MCO Executive Board was not impressed with the state’s one-time “ratification” carrot, or creation of a committee to talk about solutions, or a 5% increase. We rejected their final proposal and stood fast on our final proposal of $25 per hour starting pay, a 3 year pay scale and a 14% base pay increase. We don’t need any more committees, studies, or debates about why there is a staffing crisis. The only way to fix it in our opinion is to offer better pay, and offer it sooner. Since negotiations have stalled out, MCO is preparing for an impasse hearing in front of the Labor Relations Board on Oct. 31st and Nov. 1st. The complete MCO position statement for the impasse hearing will be posted as a separate update.

Hybrid pension bills– The pension bills in the Senate and House are still active, with the Senate version moved out of the Senate Labor Committee to the Senate floor and the House version in the House Labor Committee. Both the Senate and House are waiting on a financial study of the bills to be completed as required by law before taking further action. The study is anticipated to be complete this fall, with the bills then moving forward for consideration.

Recruitment/Retention bonuses– the proposed bonuses that were included in the state’s budget ($1,000/$1,500/$3000) have not been finalized and an inquiry has been sent to the Office of the State Employer as to the status of the proposal. As reported earlier this summer, this round of bonuses was not what MCO proposed, in our opinion the prior bonuses of $3,000 for current officers and $1,500 for new recruits over a six-month period was preferrable. An update will be provided once we have confirmation.

Overtime procedures– MCO is still in discussions with the MDOC on procedural changes for overtime involving CCW qualifications. We have requested that officers sent on involuntary transportation runs that go past the end of their regular shift be credited with a mandate. We’ve also requested an equalization list for all transportation runs assigned to on-shift officers, so that voluntary and involuntary assignment to transpo runs is done fairly and orderly. We also requested that officers be allowed to provide documentation of pre-scheduled medical appointments in order to be bypassed for mandate on the day of the appointment. If these changes are confirmed, an update will be sent out.

Chapter elections– First off, I would like to thank all of the current chapter officials that are giving their time and effort to represent their facility memberships. For those who are not seeking re-election, thank you for the service. To those who are now stepping up and seeking positions, thank you for the interest and good luck in your elections. For those chapters that have contested races, the voting will be conducted online on November 1, 2023. All eligible members at those facilities will receive voting instructions. Chapters where there are no contested races will not need elections.

Upcoming pay dates- The MCO clothing allowance will be on the Oct. 12 check, and Longevity payments for those that qualify will be on the Oct. 26 check. The 2% base pay increase took effect on Oct 1. The bi-weekly MCO dues will increase by 50 cents per pay period effective Oct. 26.

Dues reauthorization- On behalf of the Executive Board, I would first like to thank every member that chose to reauthorize dues for the coming year. It’s a pain in the ass and very frustrating to accomplish, which is exactly why they put the rule in place. They want us to shrink down to nothing and go away so they don’t have to negotiate anything with us anymore. They want us to turn on each other and doubt the need for representation, and unfortunately, another handful of our brothers and sisters fell victim to this mindset this year and didn’t reauthorize dues. That is their goal, to chip away at us and watch us splinter apart. I’m asking all members to make this a team effort and talk to each other. I’ve received messages from members telling me that they are holding out to see how negotiations go, or how the pension bills work out, or how their chapter elections turn out. I understand the frustration, but that’s called holding your dues hostage and it’s exactly what they intended for you to do. They’re banking on your decision to do this, because it’s the only way they can get rid of us. Please reconsider your position. Be mad at the people trying to eliminate us, not each other. There is nobody else out there advocating for our membership, nobody else getting pension legislation introduced for our membership, nobody else negotiating the contract for our membership. If MCO disappears, so does all of that. There are 85% of us that are standing together as dues paying members, if we all work at it, we can get that number much higher and squash their efforts to eliminate us.

B. Osborn

MCO President