By Jennifer Gomori, MAPE Editor

East Lansing Employees didn’t feel like they were getting their money’s worth from their former Union representation, so after hearing a rave review about Michigan Association of Public Employees (MAPE), they decided to switch representation.

“I didn’t know about MAPE until I was sitting down with Maureen Underhill from Novi (City Workers) who was in a trades association with me,” said Nathan Izydorek, East Lansing Employees Local Union President. “I was talking about changing unions and was asking if we can change. She said, ‘We have been with (MAPE) a while now and I absolutely love everything about them.’ That was pretty much what led us to choose MAPE.” 

East Lansing Employees liked the monthly flat fee MAPE offered compared to Union dues based on a percentage of each Employee’s wages through their former representation, United Auto Workers (UAW). They had been with the UAW since 1999.

“It was about half of what some of us were paying toward the UAW,” Izydorek said. “A lot of the members felt as though the dues were greater than what we were receiving, and there was a lot of feeling that the UAW wasn’t catering to us the way we wanted or needed them to. At the end of the day, we did not consider TPOAM (Technical, Professional, and Officeworkers Association) because of our experience with both (MAPE Legal Counsel) Bryan (Davis, Jr.) and (former MAPE Labor Relations Specialist) Gary McSweeney and the dues structure.”

The group voted 21-7 to join MAPE, however, the UAW fought the move in court, seeking a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. “MAPE won the vote in May (2022), but there was a break when the UAW was contesting the Union change in court,” Izydorek said. “That’s why our negotiations were delayed.”

MAPE was certified as the exclusive representative of the approximately 49-member group. They ratified their first MAPE-represented contract Dec. 6, 2022 with 6 percent in raises over two years and a $500 Hazard Payment to each Employee upon ratification. Two additional payscale steps were added for Administrative Secretaries/Associates, allowing them to boost their wages up to 8 percent higher by cross-training for other City positions. Senior Meter Technicians also had two additional payscale steps added, allowing them the opportunity to increase their pay up to 9.8 percent, if they obtain certain licensures.

Certification Pay was enhanced by an incentive for new hires. New hires, in specific classifications with certain certifications, are now eligible to receive a $1,000 signing bonus. Existing Employees who obtain licensures and certifications will also receive annual Certification Pay ranging from $125 to $1,000 per certification or license. 

Life insurance was increased to $50,000 per Employee and they received increases in Boot Allowance and Uniform Allowance, plus the addition of a Jacket Allowance.  

“The high points of the contract are definitely the increases we were able to get for select classifications, changes to the Uniform Allowance and the Boot Allowance, and cleaning up a lot of the language,” Izydorek said. “One thing that I never really liked about the contract is a lot of the language hadn’t been updated or changed as far as being a proof compared to a final draft, where we could make it a little more readable. There were definitely issues in certain sections that needed to be cleared up. It was confusing. The City would say that was not the intent of the language. It should be what it says, not what was implied.”

As a newer Local Union President going through his first negotiations process, Izydorek appreciated having more assistance from MAPE than he was receiving from the group’s former representation.

“The experience has been wonderful. I’m happy to have somebody like MAPE and its representatives on my side to help me through the whole situation,” Izydorek said. “Looking back, a lot of times with the UAW it was lots of ‘Go figure it out on your own.’ As somebody like myself, who was new to being in unions and union leadership, a lot of stuff I had questions about I wasn’t getting feedback or immediate feedback. Gary, who left, and Bryan were very quick to respond to questions I have, and the answers I get are also very well thought out and detailed. They give scenarios of what can happen.”

“It’s been so much more service that we’ve received,” he said. “Then, on top of that, with Bryan’s help, veteran members said our latest contract was the most detailed and most extensive changes we’ve had since almost 25 years ago.”