Wednesday, February 9, 2011
TDCJ back to mandatory overtime, using people that call in sick to save money
Mandatory overtime within the agency, an issue said to be a thing of the past is back with a vengeance. Even regions said to be fully staffed are said to be using staff in mandatory overtime positions. In those cases, those units are short due to employees calling in sick, and having Officers out on family medical leave. All of which are accounted for in the units total numbers even though they are not there. TDCJ policy on overtime just a few months back consisted of asking for volunteers, then mandating. Most times, volunteers covered the shifts. Over the past couple of months however, TDCJ has unofficially altered that policy in that now if you call in during your cycle, you may be mandated to work. Even before volunteers are sought after.
The statewide rates of employee disciplinary for refusing to work mandated overtime has gone up. Many are due to those employees refusing to work just because they called in a day during that cycle. The Backgate had received 18 emails from Officers that have been disciplined in one way or another for refusing to work mandatory overtime based upon them calling in sick when there were volunteers before them available. We have even heard reports that Officers taking a day off of comp time to avoid losing time being mandated to work overtime based on the fact that they wont accrue overtime because they already took off in their cycle. I understand the point that TDCJ is broke and can't afford to pay out cash money for overtime. But come on TDCJ, come up with something that doesn't punish staff for not abusing, but using their sick, or other accrued leaves afforded under policy. These issues surely wouldn't hold up in a court of law.
Being a TDCJ employee myself, i understand that Officers abuse their time and create hardships on the unit. But for the people legitimately sick, on dialysis, or even cancer patients that have to take a day due to circumstances out of their control, what sense does it make to mandate them to work overtime ? And we have seen this. Many employees are filing grievances as we speak. If you have been affected by this new altered policy we want to hear from you. Email us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will pose this issue to legislators, attorneys and others over the next few weeks. Let us hear from you.