31 AUG 20 Grievance Arbitration Decision
By ILFOPLC, Staff - Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Today we received the Order from Arbitrator Edward Benn regarding our Emergency and Merit Classification Grievances. They are attached below. In short, the arbitrator ruled that the Sheriff has the authority to assign Deputies to the Jail under the civil emergency provision of the CBA. However, the Sheriff cannot change Deputies Merit Classification from Court Services to Corrections Officer.
What does this mean?
The Arbitrator has essentially placed the ball in our court. It is essential now that we step up and help our brothers and sisters out. The Arbitrator ruled that the Covid-19 pandemic allows, if not requires, the Sheriff to keep implementing social distancing guidelines as much as practicable for inmates at DOC. For those who are not already aware, the issue the Jail the facing is this: since inmates are spread out, so is the staff, so mandating is rampant. There is simply too much available OT for the Jail to keep staffed. This is not a knock at Corrections Officers. They are doing their best to keep up, but there are only so many 16-hour days anyone can handle before someone is forced to call off – creating the need for more mandating – and so it goes. The only way to remedy this now, without forcing additional Deputies to be assigned to the Jail, is to show that we can help shoulder the weight without being forced to do so. We are calling on everyone who can volunteer to do so before we are voluntold. Director Miller’s email that allows deputies to work the voluntary overtime will be expanded to include all interested Deputies, not just those who were temporarily reassigned to the CCDOC. Should the Sheriff be forced to assign more Deputies to the Jail, this will not only affect the least senior of us, although they will feel the brunt of the impact. We have been short staffed in courts for quite some time. We cannot afford to lose any more Deputies to the Jail for any amount of time. Not to mention that many of those who have recently come back from the Jail feel like they have already been through the ringer. As volunteers, we have much more autonomy regarding where and when we work within the Jail.
This is not precedent setting for any type of merger or the like, other than as it pertains to Civil Emergencies. Any discipline issued will continue to be handled by the ILFOPLC. You will not be mandated an additional shift if you volunteer to work a shift at the Jail. Anyone who is interested, please contact your steward, Todd, Katie, or Sander with any questions or concerns.
Arbitrator Benn’s decision made it clear that emergencies do not last forever, and he retains jurisdiction over the grievance. Naturally, this could mean a vaccine or cure for Covid-19. In the meantime, we must show that staffing shortages at the Jail are under control (and there is no need to force more Deputies into the Jail) through volunteers alone.
Currently, most overtime shifts that need to be filled are shifts that we are the most available – midnights and weekends. If we get enough of us to voluntarily take the available OT, we can prevent further displacement of more deputies and it is our best chance at returning those still there. Assuming the volunteer program is a success, and the Sheriff still refuses to timely return ALL Deputies back to the courts, we can return to the Arbitrator and show that any issues constituting an emergency have been cured so that he may amend his order.
Thank you for all you do and stay safe.