Labor Specialists

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


By Jennifer Gomori, MAP Editor

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

Heins began working full-time as a MAP 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.

MAP 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, MAP Editor

Michigan Association of Police (MAP) suffered a tremendous loss April 28 with the passing of former longtime MAP Executive Board President Rich Heins, who just began working as a MAP Labor Relations Specialist.

Heins had just retired from Sterling Heights Police Department in March when serious infections set in following multiple foot and ankle surgeries. After six weeks in intensive care at Henry Ford Hospital, he succumbed to the infections at the age of 54 surrounded by his loved ones.

Rich Heins

“He was a very fine professional Police Officer who was unselfish of his time and talents and he would help with whatever he could to improve the lives of law enforcement officers and their families,” said MAP Executive Director Fred Timpner.

Heins broke his left foot and ankle during a K-9 training exercise in September 2017. He took a year off police work and went through many surgeries. Heins returned to light duty for a short time in 2018, but doctors recommended yet another surgery in early 2019. Suffering with pain and swelling, he decided to retire from police work.

Heins suddenly fell ill in mid-March and was admitted to the hospital. As his health deteriorated, doctors put him into a medically-induced coma. Sadly, he never regained consciousness.

“The nurses were so nice to him in intensive care. To cheer him up they would show him pictures of his dogs,” Timpner said. “But Chase (Heins recently retired K9) has been really missing him. He actually moves furniture around the house.”

So, when doctors realized Heins would be passing soon, the nurses wanted Chase by his side. “Henry Ford Hospital staff put a call out to the family to bring the dog down,” Timpner said. “Unfortunately, Sterling Heights Police sent a K9 Officer to pick Chase up, but before they could get down there he passed away. But I thought, ‘What a class move.’”

By Jennifer Gomori, MAP 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 MAP 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.

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 MAP in September.

Labor Relations Specialist Jerald James

“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 Michigan Association of Fire Fighters (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 the Labor Relations Specialists.

Unequaled expertise, respect, achievement

MAP’s staff of labor relations professionals has earned recognition throughout the state for their unequaled record of success in all phases of union representation. Expertise reflects not only longevity, performing many years of highly specialized union business, but steady growth and adaptation in this increasingly complex field of knowledge.

To be an effective and respected representative of public safety/public employee personnel, each MAP Labor Relations Specialist has accumulated many years of experience in all aspects of representation and has superb credentials. Their inside knowledge of Michigan’s labor relations community began when they served as public safety officers who represented their peers at the bargaining table.

Two “breakthrough” contracts in Sterling Heights showcase their achievements: an agreement which for the first time brought base wages of over $70,000 a year to officers in Michigan, and the pact years previous which smashed the $30,000 a year barrier in the state.

Thorough understanding of the issues and how they impact union members is critical when it comes to having a representative who will fight for the rights of others. MAP Labor Relations Specialists not only have the background to address tough issues while focusing on specific concerns of members, they have the foresight necessary to bring both sides of table together. This unique combination of attributes can be seen in the achievements made in MAP bargaining agreements throughout the years, paying dividends to the hundreds of members who wisely invested their futures in the Michigan Association of Police.


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Union Executive Directors are expected to oversee their labor staff and day-to-day operations, but Executive Director Fred Timpner leads MAP Labor Relations Specialists by example, taking a seat at the bargaining table as well. The former President of Southfield Police Officers’ Association (SPOA) personally negotiates contracts, keeping himself fully immersed in the continually changing labor relations field. Within a year of joining Southfield PD in 1971, he was selected as Shift Steward for his local association. Soon afterward, he was elected Vice President and then President of the 100-member group. Timpner has more than three decades of law enforcement labor leader experience, earning a reputation as an expert in contract negotiations, grievances and grievance arbitrations. He has a full complement of labor relations studies including: a bachelor’s degree in Social Science from Michigan State University; master’s degree in Criminal Justice from University of Detroit; graduated Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Training Council (now known as MCOLES); and numerous certifications from various labor relations courses and training. An established professional experienced in presenting Act 312 arbitration cases, he served as an adjunct professor at Lawrence Technology University, instructing courses in labor relations and dispute resolution for three years. In his spare time, the married father of two daughters enjoys playing golf, reading, and spending time with his four grandchildren.


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Jerald James has represented EMS workers for nearly two decades. His union career track began in 1997 as Union Steward with International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). He climbed the ranks to Chief Steward from 1998-2002 and President from 2002-05. In 2005, he was promoted to Lieutenant, and in 2007 became President of EMS Officers Association. He was promoted to EMS Superintendent in 2010, the highest position in the organization, and stayed until 2014 when he left the job to become a Captain and President of EMS Officers Association again, this time a unit of MAFF. James made history, leading the way to the largest settlement with the City in Detroit EMS history. When 21 Detroit EMS workers, who were certified as Paramedics, were not being paid the rate negotiated in the contract, the union filed for arbitration and James was part of the team who found the documentation needed to prove the rate should be paid. James took on part-time positions as a patient care attendant at Grace Hospital’s psychiatric unit and with the substance abuse detox unit at Salvation Army while working his full-time EMS position. He graduated from Eastern Michigan University Fire Staff and Command Academy. The married father of four enjoys refereeing high school, college and semi pro football games when he is not busy serving MAP members.


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Joe O’Connor has a wealth of union experience, both on the job, as a retired Sterling Heights Police Sergeant, and in his personal life, growing up the son of a United Auto Workers Committeeman. He served 31 years with Sterling Heights PD, 17 of which he was a dues-paying MAP member. But his union experience really began at age 10, when O'Connor started attending UAW meetings with his father. This influence provided him with a solid background using a diplomatic approach to resolve issues. As Grievance Committee Chairman for Sterling Heights Police Officers Association, O’Connor's goal was to resolve issues at the lowest level possible. As a member of the contract negotiation team for the Police Officers Association, he was instrumental in settling multi-year contracts. But make no mistake; O'Connor is not afraid to take a hard-line stance when necessary. When he is not busy representing MAP members in contract negotiations and disciplinary matters, the married father of four with four grandchildren enjoys spending time with friends and family cruising Lake St. Clair aboard his boat. O'Connor and his wife, Cheryl, were into motorcycling, however, he said, he had to get back into boating since he couldn’t fit everyone on the motorcycle.


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James Steffes was a local union official with Sterling Heights Police Department when he became part of the team breaking statewide barriers in wage and benefit packages with the help of MAP’s Executive Director Fred Timpner. After 26 years on the job, Steffes retired as a Police Sergeant and joined MAP as a Labor Relations Specialist to continue providing high quality representation to law enforcement employees. While serving as a Patrolman, he was active with the Grievance Committee for eight years and involved in union activities. The time spent helping fellow employees resolve their concerns with management made a lasting impression on Steffes. He found his personality and disposition were a perfect fit for successfully handling difficult contract situations for MAP. In his free time, the married father of one enjoys golfing.



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Ed Wertz accumulated two decades of labor experience serving on the Detroit Police Officers Association (DPOA) Executive Board, chairing their Finance Committee and Bylaws Committee, and serving on the Election Committee. The retired Detroit Police Officer served 32 years with the department, 28 of which with the prestigious Mounted Police Section. He personally handled over 100 grievances and was instrumental in providing goals and direction for the membership during collective bargaining. Wertz served as Vice President and President of Retired Detroit Police and Firefighter Association and was a board member of Police Benefit and Protective Association, also affiliated with Detroit Police. He volunteered as a member of Detroit Police Athletic League and remains active as a Knights of Columbus member. Wertz earned a degree in Criminal Justice from Henry Ford Community College. He takes his responsibilities to the membership seriously having served MAP since October 2007. The married father of two children enjoys golfing, hiking and kayaking.