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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 Fred Timpner, MAP Executive Director

The anti-union sentiment spreading across this nation seemed to take hold in the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently ruled workers can decide if they want to pay dues in a unionized workforce in the fredJanus vs. AFSCME case. Yet “free riders” enjoy better working conditions, hours, wages and benefits thanks to the same union they refuse to support.

Unions exist to protect employees’ rights to fair working conditions, reasonable hours and wages. When MAP, MAPE and MAFF members band together to advance their concerns with Employers through collective bargaining, positive changes occur. In fact, unions have been so successful at the bargaining table that some Employers are working hard to weaken them.

The “right-to-work” campaign focused on individuals rights to choose whether to pay dues. When it was implemented in Michigan, proponents wanted workers to believe they were benefitting by having a few extra dollars in their pockets. But free riders not only cost the union money, they cost themselves money in the long run. When you refuse to support the union representing you and your co-workers, it takes away needed funds to protect worker rights, benefits, and jobs.

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.