“I believe in unions.”

“But, If the union isn’t willing to back you up and give you what you think you deserve as a union, they need to step up and earn members.”  

“There’s a misunderstanding ‘right to work’ means ‘just dissolve the unions’. Right to work is really just ‘do you want to join the union or do you not want to join the union?’ It should be your option.”

“I was a member of the United Auto Workers when I worked in the auto manufacturing industry.”

“When I worked there, I couldn’t believe that a person was being paid more money than me to clean one breakroom. That’s all he had to do, because that was his position as a union custodian. And then they had another guy who just cleaned the restroom. That was his job, he had two restrooms to take care of. They were making more money than I was, and sat on their butts for seven out of eight hours. And you wonder the price of a car is so high. They’re paying people for doing nothing.”

“When I was given the choice to take a buyout or move to Tennessee for a job, I ended up taking the buyout. I bought a bar and served as a member of the Hamtramck City Council. So I got to see that side of union negotiations, too. I’ve been on both sides.”

“After seven and a half years, I sold the bar and took a job in St. Clair County as a corrections officer. In my third year there, I became the president of the Union –  the Police Officers Association of Michigan – on the jail side. At that time, there were about 30 deputies. As time went on, we grew, built a new jail, and went up to more than 80 deputies.”

“It became a pretty good union when I was the president. It was helpful that I had experience with contract negotiations from being on the other side as a member of the city council– I knew the ropes and what to do. Still, our union rep didn’t always listen or fight for us in negotiations.”

“When I’d been on the job for five years, I became a sergeant and served as Vice President of my new union – the Command Officers Association of Michigan. I’d been in contract negotiations before as a deputy, and as a city council member – and now with the command officers. I know how they play the game, but I felt like the union didn’t really back us up on negotiations, so I said ‘I don’t want nothing to do with it anymore. I’m stepping down.’ They asked me to stay on as treasurer, which I did until I retired in 2022.”

“Looking back on my career, if I’d had the choice, I don’t think I personally needed union representation. I was never written up, I always came to work and answered my phone. I guess I was a good employee. I never had a problem to where I needed union representation.”


Mike Witkowski
St. Clair County