We want to alert you to a serious safety concern for all Teamsters working at the DOC. The Department has indicated it wants to assign untrained non-custody staff at some facilities to work in custody positions in an effort to address staffing shortages.
This is completely unacceptable. DOC is putting you and your co-workers at risk when they assign staff that lack proper training and equipment to work as an officer.
We understand the severity of the staffing crisis that has been exacerbated by recent COVID outbreaks. We also know that many custody staff are exhausted with the amount of mandatory overtime required to keep the prisons operational. But there is absolutely no justification for jeopardizing staff safety through this misguided approach.
The Union has proposed numerous alternatives to your employer that would alleviate its custody staffing concerns without creating a danger to you or your coworkers. These include:
- Cancelling all visitation and redeploying those resources
- Cancelling ALL programs and redeploying resources
- Ceasing the use of custody personnel for Covid screening so they can be used for security purposes
- Recalling all custody personnel from temporary/non perm/project positions (as of today we know there are at least 104 officers and 29 sergeants that could be put back into the schedule)
- Exploring DOC management's ability to temporarily perform custody work to avoid assigning mandatory overtime (for example lieutenants, captains, associates, etc.)
IMPORTANT: Please do not volunteer to work in a custody position if you lack the proper training or have not recently performed custody work. You have the right to refuse to perform an assigned task if you have a good faith belief that to do so would subject you or others (coworkers or offenders) to serious injury.
If DOC assigns you to work or asks you to volunteer to work in a custody position when you have not recently held or have never worked in a custody position and you have a good faith belief that performing that work would subject you or others to serious injury, you have the right to:
- Ask DOC to allow you to perform work other than custody work and
- Ask DOC to use alternatives other than assigning the custody work to you.
If your employer refuses to do either of these things and you reasonably believe that performing custody work would subject you or others to serious injury, you have the right to inform your employer that you are refusing to work.
If the DOC attempts to force you to work as an officer and you are not properly trained for the position, please notify your shop steward and union representative immediately.
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