248-409-1900 dburke@mi-worklaw.com

By:  Bill Pilchak – 11/18/14

          Readers of this blog know that we don’t hesitate to criticize unions. Especially at commercial enterprises, where the ability to compete against other companies is crucial, unions frequently impair that competitiveness and the flexibility needed in a rapidly changing world, sometimes through ignorance or selfishness, but sometimes intentionally. Businesses, including overseas competitors that have supplanted American companies in success-rankings, avoid unions for that reason. In the business-to-business context, utilizing unionized suppliers means increased costs to fund wasteful practices required by collective bargaining agreements, including drivers sitting at idling hilos instead of performing out-of-classification work. We have gone on record that we believe that unions should employ their own business-savvy professionals to develop a strategy for the 21st Century that is not modeled on the 1935 business climate that produced the current union business-model.

          So, I don’t want readers to think I have gone “soft” on my stance regarding unions, when I laud Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 124 for their outstanding efforts on behalf of my “cousin-in-law,” Deputy Frank Delise on November 12.   First, let me note that public sector unions do not have the same effect on America’s competitiveness as private sector unions.

          So, all disclaimers having been issued, the police officers at Lodge 124 are to be highly commended. Dep. Frank Delise was diagnosed with cancer a while ago, and most recently was found to have a malignant brain tumor. Happily, he is in good spirits while going through a health crises, looks surprisingly good bald, and enjoys the support of his beautiful wife and sons. However, unavoidably, the health crisis has resulted in a financial crisis.

          Here’s where Lodge 124 stepped in by providing their union hall and kitchen to produce a benefit spaghetti dinner for Frank.   Upon approach last Tuesday, one might have thought the academy awards were being held on 14 Mile Road in Warren. Cars overflowed from Lodge 124’s parking lot, and at least 6 officers directed traffic to nearby empty fields, while others parked in lots across the street dodging traffic. Inside, among Frank’s family – my outlaws…I mean my in-laws, every imaginable cop-type was there: Barrel chested veterans, rookies evolving into the tough-guy stereotype, and long-haired undercover officers who confined themselves to a far corner lest someone they encountered on-duty happen to attend the event.

          Through a variety of means, raffles, auctions and drinks-for-dollars gimmicks, hundreds of attendees gladly departed with dollars, to cousin Frank’s benefit. When the speeches were delivered at the end of the evening, one saw the softer side of those burly first-responders. I don’t want to discount the effort of an army of Frank’s friends and closer-than-us relatives, but the support of Lodge 124 members and maybe other FOP members was crucial.

          I don’t want readers to leave with the impression that this grizzled, opinionated, cynic only finds something positive about unions when they do something good for his family.   Let me adjust that perspective just a bit: This grizzled, opinionated, management-side lawyer doesn’t get too many opportunities to mix with a Fraternal Order, and it always warms one’s heart to see the generous donation of time, effort and treasure to help a brother…any kind of brother.