April 14, 2020
For Immediate Release
CONTACT: David Blanchette, (217) 370-9223
FOP Labor Council urges Shelby County Board to stop action that will hurt first responders during COVID epidemic
SHELBYVILLE - The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Labor Council, which represents all 30 deputies and support staff employed by the Shelby County Sheriff's Department, is calling on Shelby County government officials to pull back from a new payroll plan that will cause immediate economic hardship to the men and women who are risking their lives every day to protect the county's citizens during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We can't think of a worse time than this to force first responders to give up a week's pay just to correct the way that county paychecks have been issued since the 1970s,” said FOP Labor Council Executive Director Shawn Roselieb. “These courageous men and women shouldn't have to worry if they'll be able to support their families during these unprecedented times just to tweak a bookkeeping practice that the employees didn't cause and that's been around for generations.”
The Shelby County Board, through the County Treasurer's Office, intends to update the existing salary schedule from a “current pay” system to an “arrears” pay system during the month of May. The Treasurer has claimed that no employees will lose wages in the long term as a result of the switch, but it will involve Sheriff's Department employees going without pay for a week during May in order for the new system to “catch up” with the existing system.
Those who cannot afford to go without a week's salary in May are being told to cash in hard-earned vacation or compensatory time even though they will be on the job working. The eight new employees can also use sick leave to bridge the gap as an option, but that would deplete the sick leave most of them have if they actually do contract COVID later.
“Sheriff's Department employees know that two of their law enforcement colleagues in Illinois have already suffered duty-related deaths from this virus and many more have been severely stricken by it. They know that as 'essential employees' they cannot remove themselves from harm's way by staying at home,” Roselieb said. “Why on earth would anybody want to add an additional burden right now on these brave men and women battling this unseen threat as they try to keep their fellow citizens safe, secure and healthy?”
Sheriff's Department employees won't be the only ones who suffer from the paycheck plan. Local businesses that are already hurting because of the pandemic shutdowns would see even less business during May since deputies and support personnel wouldn't have enough income to spend.
Roselieb said the FOP agrees the outdated paycheck system needs to be updated and the union is ready and willing to work with the county to get that done. But the FOP feels the time to correct the issue, which has been around for almost 50 years, would be once the pandemic emergency is over, not right in the middle of the emergency.
The Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council is a law enforcement union representing more than 12,000 professionals in more than 514 bargaining units who work in the criminal justice system. The Labor Council negotiates and enforces contracts and improves salaries, working conditions, and benefits for law enforcement professionals throughout Illinois. Its members include police officers who work for municipalities, universities, and elected Constitutional officials; county sheriff’s deputies, correctional and court security officers; probation officers; 911 telecommunicators; law enforcement records personnel; and some related support staff.
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