Labor Specialists

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

Woodhaven Police Detective Lt. Gary McSweeney has served in every position on the Local Union Patrol and Command boards, so he took the logical next step when he accepted a MAFF Labor Relations Specialist position.

With over two decades of labor relations experience, McSweeney has participated in six contract negotiations and at least 20 grievances. He’s also participated in mediations and arbitrations. “Negotiations directly affect my benefits and I’ve always enjoyed having a hand in that,” he said. “We’ve had a few grievances that have come up and it’s always interesting to negotiate some of that.”

Labor Relations Specialist Gary McSweeney

“I find (mediations and arbitrations) are similar to criminal cases. You have to do research,” he said. “It’s putting your case together to present to a judge or mediator.”

MAFF Labor Relations Specialist Jim Steffes encouraged McSweeney to pursue the part-time labor specialist position after learning of his upcoming retirement in December, following 28 years of service with Woodhaven PD. McSweeney will transition to a full-time MAFF staff member by January 2021.

“I had a great conversation with (Executive Director) Fred (Timpner) and (Executive Administrator) Julie (Palmquist) and I was offered the position,” McSweeney said.

“We’ve been with MAP a good 10 years,” he said of Woodhaven Command. “That’s been good to have Jim (Steffes) with us the whole time.”

Over the years, McSweeney has learned contract interpretation can be a matter of perspective. “The funniest thing about all that is what side of the table you’re on seems to determine how you interpret the language,” McSweeney said. “At the time you think you have it figured out, then later we read it one way and the City reads it another way.”“The clearer and the more unambiguous you can be the better it is for everybody,” he said. “The same thing goes for criminal cases. I put more information in my reports to take the ambiguity out of what I’m trying to say.”

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

Cross trained as a police officer and firefighter, Beverly Hills Public Safety Lt. Chad Trussler has served his department in a variety of capacities and his comrades as a local Union board member.

Over the past 20 years Trussler has accumulated an abundance of police, firefighting and EMS experience in addition to representing local members. Now he’s taking his knowledge to the next level as a part-time MAFF Labor Relations Specialist.

Labor Relations Specialist Chad Trussler

A MAP member for the past 13 years, Trussler served on the Beverly Hills Public Safety Officers Association MAP local union board as a former Steward and Treasurer and has been Local Union President for Beverly Hills Command Officers Association since 2015.

“The Command unit was always MAP since the beginning,” Trussler said. “I was pleased to come back to MAP when I was promoted to Sergeant in 2015. I’ve been the Local Union President for five years.”

A Lieutenant since 2017, Trussler has been with Beverly Hills Public Safety Department since January 2001, serving as a Detective/Public Safety Officer, Sergeant and Detective Sergeant. Prior to that, he served as a Romeo Village Police Officer and Pleasant Ridge Police Officer.

“I’ve always been attracted to labor and I’ve been an active member,” Trussler said. “I come from a family that benefited from being in unions. My great grandfather was actively involved in railroad union. My father was in the UAW. My mother was involved in the union in Utica Schools and my grandfather and father were members of Plumbers Local Union #98.”

The first in his family to become a Public Safety Officer, Trussler has a vast array of experience including serving as a former Field Training Officer (FTO) and current FTO Coordinator and Commander. As a state licensed Medical First Responder, he has responded to hundreds of medical complaints. He is a Certified Taser Instructor and ALICE Instructor, having achieved several law enforcement and firefighting certifications. Trussler has conducted and supervised firefighting and police operations, conducted training, written grants for equipment and projects, and presented public safety information during public events. He also served as a School Resource Officer for Birmingham Public Schools for four years.

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

MAFF’s new Legal Counsel Bryan Davis may be young, but he’s accomplished, earning a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University (MSU), two master’s degrees, a law degree and working on a third master’s degree.

MAFF Legal Counsel Bryan Davis

With a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling, a Master of Jurisprudence in Legal Doctrine and Analysis and a Juris Doctorate, the 26-year-old joked, “I’ve been a lifelong Michigan State student.” Davis is continuing to pursue a master’s in Human Resources and Labor Relations at MSU. However, his experiences beyond the classroom are just as noteworthy.

He worked as an intern in Career Planning and Consultation for Peckham, Inc., a community rehabilitation organization helping individuals with disabilities find employment. He also participated in Spartan Project SEARCH at MSU, which focuses on employment readiness for individuals with developmental disabilities. “High school students were utilizing this program for their final year in order to gain employment skills to find work after graduation,” Davis said.

While he didn’t take a traditional route into labor law, he said, “I found the Rehab Counseling master’s program and did get a lot of background in employment readiness for individuals with disabilities. A lot of the stuff I learned focused on disability rights in general, which are all things that I took with me when I got to law school.”

He understands the importance of unions when it comes to protecting workers’ rights. “My family has a pretty substantial relationship with unions,” Davis said. “My father, all of his brothers and his father were all carpenters. To this day my dad is still a business agent for the Local 687."

“The bulk of my courses I tried to focus in labor and employment law,” Davis said of his Juris Doctorate. He put his law degree to work for the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) from January to October 2019. “A professor at MSU, Mary Bedikian suggested I reach out because the Bureau of Employment Relations was looking for a law clerk. I was fortunate enough to be offered a position there,” Davis said.

Photo By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor                                                                                                                                                                      MAP Executive Board Vice President Mike Kunath (left of Heins Field sign) was one of the speakers at MAFF Labor Relations Specialist Rich Heins' memorial service at Heins Field in Sterling Heights May 6, 2019.

 

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

Several area police departments were represented by their Officers and K9s during a May 6, 2019 memorial service honoring Sterling Heights Police K9 Officer Rich Heins, who passed away after developing serious infections.

Heins began working full-time as a MAFF Labor Relations Specialist after vacating his longtime MAP Executive Board President seat due to his March retirement from Sterling Heights PD. He died April 28, 2019 at the age of 54, following six weeks in intensive care at Henry Ford Hospital.

Over 300 memorial attendees passed underneath a large American flag poised atop fire truck ladders at the entrance to Heins Field inside Baumgartner Park in Sterling Heights, where the service was held. The field was named in Heins' honor in late 2018 for his many years training K9s there. During his nearly 30-year career with Sterling Heights, Heins helped start the K9 program, becoming a handler in 1996 and K9 Trainer in 1998.

Rich Heins

Honor Guard members presented his family with a large wreath, folded flag and performed a 21-gun salute. Speakers included family, friends and co-workers like MAP Executive Board Vice President Mike Kunath. Kunath took over Heins position as Sterling Heights Police Officers Association President, a position Heins held for 23 years.

MAFF Executive Director Fred Timpner spoke about Heins’ numerous fine qualities as a parent, a Police Officer and as a Union Representative at the luncheon that followed. “He was respected by all on both sides of the bargaining table,” Timpner said.

Heins leaves behind two sons, Josh, 25, a Marine Corps Sergeant currently assigned to Paris Island, South Carolina and Jacob, 23, a student in the accelerated nursing program at Madonna University, completing his post-graduate studies.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are being accepted for the Richard C. Heins Memorial K9 Fund, 1433 Lochridge, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. 48302 or by going to any branch of PNC Bank and asking to make a deposit to the Richard C. Heins Memorial K9 Fund. Funds will be used for Sterling Heights K9 Unit training needs and care of K9s on the force or retired. For more information, call the city of Sterling Heights at (586) 446-2489.

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

Jerald James has always enjoyed coming to the aid of others, so helping his fellow Detroit EMS co-workers resolve employment concerns was a natural transition for him. Now that he’s recently retired, James is taking his next step helping others as the newest MAFF Labor Relations Specialist.

“The one thing that attracted me to the union when I started (Detroit EMS) in 1997 was witnessing employees rights not being honored or respected and watching co-workers or peers really struggle with their rights and their benefits and wages,” James said.

Labor Relations Specialist Jerald James

James represented EMS workers for nearly two decades through his various positions at Detroit EMS, including EMS Superintendent and his most recent position as EMS Captain. He begins his new career with MAFF in September.

“Once I crossed into the union world, it became very rewarding to me to win a grievance or have a phone call and get some stuff straightened out,” he said. “It made the job dually rewarding - I was delivering babies and ... getting peoples’ jobs back when they were wrongly discharged. For a lot of people you end up saving their life or their careers when no one else would or could.”

James was a MAFF Union Steward since 2014, when EMS Supervisors joined MAFF. Now MAFF representatives are hoping EMTs and Paramedics will join the union as well.

“I was actually the union president for the group when we affiliated with MAFF,” James said. “To me, it was a natural transition. I really liked what I’m doing - I wouldn’t change it. I think this is a nice group of guys I’m dealing with too,” he said of Labor Relations staff.