Wednesday, February 9, 2011

TDCJ back to mandatory overtime, using people that call in sick to save money

 By Max Rodriguez, Backgate Website

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 admin@thebackgate.org.  We will pose this issue to legislators, attorneys and others over the next few weeks. Let us hear from you.

27 comments:

  1. Wow. Thats pretty bold on the agencies part. More money for lawsuits then since i suppose.

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  2. Problem is that current employees are too chicken to get in touch with an attorney. Solution is to get someone who is no longer an employee and who has been jacked some what on overtime to file. Ogletree-Abbott Law Firm has a form that you can fill out to get them started on your claim. There are other law firms that want these clients too. You don't pay for the costs of litigation unless you win the lawsuit. In these types of cases the employers are normally ordered to pay the costs of litigation. TDCJ is gambling that once someone does file, they won't have to pay out as much as they would have, had they paid everybody the overtime compensation in the first place. TDCJ prefers to pay later, rather than sooner. They invite litigation, than they do everything they can to retaliate. Employees are afraid of their own shadows.

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  3. I see nothing wrong with this. People need to stop calling in sick. The fact that so many people call in sick regularly and the wardens never do anything about it is a slap in the face to all of us honest, hard working folks who would come to work on our death bed to avoid screwing our shift over.

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  4. Some of these people are not regulars on call ins. Its flu season and at some point everybody gets sick. How do you justify being basically retaliated against by the agency because you used a day of YOUR accrued sick time, then made to work overtime because of it ? You can't. And you sure can't justify taking a comp day because your losing time (which means you come to work) then get penalized for that and made to work overtime.

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  5. To Anonymous (5:55 am).... You are not screwing ANYBODY over by using benefits that are part of the compensation package TDCJ gives you. Before I say anything else- I have only called in once since September, to care for a very sick spouse. Did I feel guilty ? NO ! How is it my, or anybody else fault, that Huntsville cannot hire enough bodies to staff units to compensate for THEIR benefits package ? These benefits are part of the deal because of the low pay. I was told that I get a certain amount of holiday,comp, vacation and sick time along with the LOW pay. Why am I wrong in any way for using it exactly for what it is given for ?

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  6. At the Torres Unit, everyone is getting PM'd any time they take a day off -- approved vacation day or not. If not at work, they get PMed. I could understand if it were only for calling in (i.e., creating documentation in case they want to use PD-49) but this policy Major Trejo has implemented of PMing all absences even those approved is strange.

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  7. I worked in Admistration, but do underatand your frustration. There will always be those employees that have no consideration for the impact they have on their co-workers by constantly abusing their time.....that is in every work environment.

    What astounds me about TDCJ is the inconsistency between units. Policy overrides "at the Warden's discretion". Policy is not enforced cohesively at any unit. TDCJ is the ultimate disfunctional environment I have ever worked in.

    There are labor laws that have been violated consistently by this agency----mandatory overtime is in a crisis situation (do not believe that understaffing meets that criteria).

    Also, in Bonham, there is an person over Personnel (do not know the title) that may work 2-3 days per week. The clerk is allowed to enter everyones time with the exception of this individual. That person enters their own time and I believe that the Warden's are aware. The clerk never sees that individuals timesheet and this has gone on for years. Where is your checks and balances, accountability? Where does this lead staff----disgruntled! Discention, discontent, inability to perform at peak ability. Trained employees are the most valuable asset to any institution, far beyond material assets.

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  8. It has come to attention that clemens has gone as far as to threaten disciplinary for anyone that actually banks overtime and gets paid for it. They are madatory for anyone calling in and or having taken vacation fmla ect.. off. This is wrong and against labor laws. I understand doin mandatory for people you know are abusing sick time and are constantly calling in all the time. I do not understand doing it to someone that calls in rarely and calls in only if it is really necessary like for a sick child or their down with the flu. This is utterly ridiculous to treat your employees this way and I do not understand why there is nothing being done about it. Make tdcj clean up their books and show the trueth about runnin severly understaffed in most units instead of claiming to be fully staffed...force them to pay overtime if they make the guards stay over...no other place you would work would ever get away with this crap so why do they.

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    1. You have to realize. None cares about anyone but themselves. If that's the case the over achievers that come need to use there time then

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  9. I don't begrudge anybody who uses their time. They've worked for it, they've earned it. Personally, I rarely call in because I'm going to retire one day, and 1 day of call-in is an extra day I'll have to work before retirement. That being said, disciplanary for getting paid for overtime is bullshit. About 3 mos. ago I was called in to work OT. I did along with 3 or 4 other officers. When I checked with HR the next mo., on the 2nd, the clerk asked why I got OT as if it was coming all straight out of her pocket. I was hanging out at the unit on my off day. SUPERVISOR called ME. Not vice versa.

    By the way, the following month, I was called in on an off day, and came in despite the fact that I had an approved day off earlier in set. So I worked for time and knew it.

    If they are going to write me up, it BETTER be for a better reason than COMING TO WORK WHEN REQUESTED>

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  10. I currently work at the john b. connally unit. I completely understand how everyone feels. I was always one to volunteer 4 to 5 days out of the month then they began with the mandatory 2 to 3 days more after i already had 5 days I have since stopped volunteering it is nonsense. Especially when you the see the Captain's favorites who don't get any mandatory at all.

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  11. Thats why u don't use SICK TIME you use Vacation or your OVERTIME or COMP time or HOLIDAY time. You do have a choice on what time you want to use. Go to your HR and read your RIGHTS. I did.

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  13. I just had similar experience. I was mandatory for second shift, expected to work from 2pm to 6pm but didn't get relieve until 8pm. I was scheduled to pick my kids up from Galveston at their uncle house by 8pm I could not make on time and my kids were taken to their grandmother house in Katy by their uncle who was traveling out of state. I have to drive to Katy pick the kids up and then back to Huntsville. We did make home until11:30 pm and I had to go to work the 5:15 the next day. The disappointing part about it is that the supervisor don't seem to care about the inconvenient you may have to go through due the additional time you will have to stay if you are not relieved on time.

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  14. I just received a disciplinary for volunteering to work overtime. What sense does this make?!! As a shift we were told that if you don't want to be picked for mandatory sign up for days you know won't be a problem. I chose days I knew could work and to stay after our shift. Then they complained that no one was opting to come in early and that we needed to rethink things or we would be chosen. So I switched to come in early. Low and behold they needed someone to stay after and they approached me. They said due to a technicality I selected to stay after shift to begin with so technically I have to stay. I refused and said I will not be flip flopped around at your expense. They told me that changes take a week to go into affect. No one told me this until crunch time. Of course a disciplinary followed. How is it legitimate to write someone up for volunteering to work overtime? Does anyone have a website off hand to view policies in this area?

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  15. People call in sick mostly because of the supervisors or because of how much they get screwed over on their duty posts. I have never seen a job pick favorites like this one. The same favorites get the same positions as follows for the same people having to work the crappy spots EVERY DAY! It's all about who you know or you you'll blow. This job is disgusting and the government needs to look into this disastrous pathetic place that is suppose to protect society.

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  16. You folks should come to the Clement's unit in Amarillo some time!! I am actually glad to say I escaped TDC before all this overtime crap came down. But the place was bad never the less. I mean BAD. Even people that had transferred in from other prisons would say, "My God what is wrong with you people??". We had guards threatening to quite literally KILL EACH OTHER in the parking lot after work. We had guards that were so wasted on doctor prescribed psychotropic medication that they barely knew where they were. (I witnessed a female guard have an argument with someone that wasn't actually there) And then of course it seemed to me that everyone was actively trying to hurt one another in any way they could find. I could go on... It was one hell of a party believe me! Oh, and concerning the comment above...yeah...same people being assigned the same positions mainly due to nepotism. Day in and day out. It caused extreme bitterness and downright hatred. I knew 3 people that were assigned to a picket for 3 months straight. One poor bastard did SIX MONTHS. Suffice to say, to the person that called TDC, "dysfunctional".... In all actuality I've never seen a place where the employees so desperately wanted to hurt each other. And now I come here after being gone for over 11 years and read that TDC is demanding that people work overtime and when they do and try to get paid for it, action is brought against them??

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  17. Correction: Regarding the poor bastard that was forced to work a picket for 6 months straight.... that's not quite accurate. What they would do is assign him something outside of the picket on the 30th day of every month. Then....he would go right back in for the next 29 days....then one day out....etc As it was explained to me, that way he couldn't file a grievance or bring any kind of complaint against the state.

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  18. Come to sanchez marry a capt so wife and family dont have to work dorms

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  19. At the Plane State Jail unit in Dayton, we were told that we MUST report to work on our first two OFF DAYS at 530am ( turnout) to see IF THEY NEED US, and if they do not we are to stay for 2 hours and sent home. I HAVE TO COME IN, TO SEE IF YOU NEED ME??? How is this policy?? where is it in policy that states I MUST come in to check and see if you need me?? any help on this?? Can someone tell me where in policy this is written? You would be helping a lot of officers out, yes there are about 100 staff grievances already and several have QUIT!!

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    1. no such policy in fact I was assigned to work a few hours one day and HR went to bat for me and told them fed law states that if you are told to come to work it can be for no less than 4 hr. They changed my work schedule.

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    2. is it bad working for planes ? I ask because I just accepted a job offer there about to start the academy any helpful tips?

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  20. I was just about to state the same issue. I also work at the Henley Jail in Dayton and we were told we have to do the same but only on 1 of our off days. I am a full time student and I attend on my days off. TDCJ don't like to pay unemployment so they try to force us to quit! When Plane is short they try to order up from Henley to go and work at Plane. If we have to come to work on out off days then so do every employee at the unit even the so call rank. I am seeking legal advice.

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  21. I would like to know where to find the police regarding mandatory overtime. As far as I can find there is none. Sa far as I can fine the only time TDCJ can require mandatory overtime is in the event of a emergency, and since there is no definition of emergency in TDCJ policy there is no such thing as a emergency in TDCJ, therefore staffing is not a emergency and no one can be forced to work mandatory overtime, only ask for valiantly overtime. As far as I can find regarding staffing is that if there is not enough people to man the primary positions the unit is to be locked down.

    Can someone clarify for me, Thank you.

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    1. word is they are starting this mandatory overtime thing too at the Holliday Unit for those that use "Their Earned Sicktime" as part of its so called benefits package. Dont think they can change policy on the fly, but then again its TDC and they seem to do as they want, when they want! What this is, is pure retalelation for those who use sick time.......good leaders get there troops to follow them into battle.....why is TDC so blind to this fact! Aint nothing new folks either.....some of the leadership is very low standard but highly toxic.....which there fore makes folks sick and have to use their SICKTIME!!!!!!!!!!!

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    2. Since there is no official definition out of Huntsville of what TDCJ defines as an "emergency"...each unit warden at their own discretion can therefore determine what the definition is.... We're SOL. Imho

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  22. Can anyone tell me what's the exact code entered on your time sheet when u attended In-service. My regular shift hours are 8:45. In- service are 8:00. I attended in-service on one of my off days, and HR deducted :45 mins everyday for 3days and my OT when to comp time which was 5:20. Now HR stated that the code is my regular work shift card which is P1. Now I know it should say PZ. Who's correct? Where can I find the proof r answer

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