On Friday, TSEA Executive Director John Summers, Governmental Affairs Director Randy Stamps and I had the opportunity to meet with Commissioner Schofield and his staff to discuss the implementation of the 28-day work cycle in our prisons.
Commissioner Schofield is adamant in his intention to implement the new work schedule beginning at the Northeast Correctional Facility in August and is convinced it will work successfully.
We expressed to him the concerns of our members that the new 28-day schedule will:
- disrupt the current schedule correctional officers have developed through seniority;
- reduce their ability to earn “premium” overtime pay; and
- reduce or eliminate their ability to seek outside part-time employment.
We also expressed concerns we’ve heard from our members that the 28-day schedule will make it even harder to staff already understaffed areas within our correctional facilities.
The Commissioner assured us that the safety of his employees is always his number one concern and that nothing in the new system will negatively impact their safety.
While he recognizes that some officers will have their current schedules disrupted, he believes that allowing every employee to have some weekends off as the 28-day schedule provides will be positive overall. He stated rotating weekends will positively affect the department’s ability to recruit and hire better employees.
He also recognizes that the 28-day schedule will negatively impact some officer’s ability to seek outside employment. He feels those officers will simply have to choose as to which job is their primary employment and feels the needs of DOC have to be served first.
We also discussed with the Commissioner concerns about officers arriving at work only to be told they are not needed that day. His staff informed us of a policy where the officer is guaranteed four hours of work under such a situation. We have requested a copy of the policy. Please let us know if there are areas not allowing you to work the minimum so we can pass that along to him.
We presented to the Commissioner the results of the survey we have conducted of our DOC members over the past few weeks. CLICK HERE to access the results of the survey. If you have not completed a survey, you can still do so on our website.
Correctional officers are one of the exemptions to the Fair Labors Standards Act regarding overtime compensation beyond 40 hours. Therefore TSEA is unable to legally challenge this schedule change in court.
We asked the Commissioner if he would consider shifting back to the current 40-hour schedule if the 28-day schedule proves unsuccessful. He indicated that they would revisit after a reasonable period of time for adjustments to be made.
TSEA has offered to conduct a joint survey in six-months with the Department to determine how the new schedule is accepted by employees after it has been implemented. We will follow up with DOC to assess the transition.
TSEA is committed to being the voice of our members to the Commissioner on the issues that concern them. We intend on monitoring this situation closely to determine if there are any negative impact on the safety and security of our members.
While limited by the FLSA as to our legal remedies, we will represent the rights of our members to the fullest extent possible.