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Below is a statement emailed to MDOC Director Heidi Washington and MDOC HR Director Jonathan Patterson. It addresses their DOM released yesterday concerning annual leave scheduling and the passing of the vacation book.
In the coming days, MCO will ask members to take action to tell the director how this change will impact you, your families, and your facility. Watch your email and our website.
Director Washington and HR Director Patterson,
On behalf of the entire membership of MCO and our Executive Board, I am writing to let you know the truth about how state Corrections Officers feel about the working environment that now exists under your leadership. We believe it is toxic and dysfunctional. Instead of feeling appreciated and part of a team that provides an important service to the state, we feel targeted and further apart from management than ever before. An atmosphere of animosity and mistrust has been created between us and management. Frivolous and excessive employee discipline has replaced corrective action and common sense. We see a style of management that deters us from wanting to give you any extra effort. This atmosphere has turned good employees into disgruntled employees. Your own supervisors have expressed to us their frustrations with the excessive discipline and poor morale. Not so long ago, supervisors had the discretion to manage people and earn the respect of their employees. Now it’s all black and white, all perceived violations and errors get sent to Lansing where administrators hand out discipline on a conveyor belt.
On top of all of this our facilities have become critically understaffed causing mandatory overtime to skyrocket, driving morale down. The recruitment of new officers has been dismal for years and not until just recently did you take steps to address it. For years, we have been the primary source of recruitment. Virtually every new hire sought the job because they knew someone who already worked in the Department. We aren’t as likely to recommend this job to our friends and family now, and it’s because of the work environment.
Now, as if the excessive discipline and understaffing weren’t enough, you have decided to use civil service rule changes to alter our vacation scheduling and other seniority-based systems with the intent of creating incentive for new employees to stay. What you have failed to recognize is that vacation picks and seniority aren’t the reasons new employees aren’t staying. They leave because there are other jobs out there with similar or better benefits and a better work environment. You may not have the authority to improve some of the benefits, but you have the authority to improve the work environment. Instead, you are choosing to make it worse by taking seniority privileges away from veteran employees that have earned them. Your decisions won’t make new employees stay any longer, but they will definitely drop morale even further. We’ve asked you to work together with us in creating new processes that are fair and practical, yet you dismissed our proposals and took it upon yourself to impose your personal preferences on fair and practical systems we spent years building. Your decisions are a slap in the face of the once dedicated, dependable senior officers who have stuck with this Department.
In closing, while we are disappointed with the current working environment, do not mistake that disappointment for resignation. We have decided to let you hear our collective voice. MCO has been here for fifty years and we’ve experienced ups and downs in our working conditions before. They come and go, just like Directors do.
MCO State President
In facilities all over Michigan, MCO members are discussing Civil Service rule changes that are scheduled to take effect January 1, 2019. These changes are the result of a strategic attack on unions and another attempt by anti-worker organizations to silence the voice of workers and inject uncertainty about issues important to corrections officers and forensic security assistants.
Like our brothers and sisters who founded this organization, the members of MCO have met these attacks head on and refused to back down or be intimidated by politicians and cronies hoping for the worst.
As a way of demonstrating our solidarity and commitment to each other, we are asking all members to wear this 50th anniversary pin on their uniform until the end of 2018. By doing so, it sends a strong message – that you support your brothers and sisters and believe in the collective power of our union.
Also, it’s worth noting that MCO has heard rumors and chatter that supervisors are already saying they won’t allow officers to wear this pin but be aware that our contract explicitly allows members to wear pins to show our solidarity. This is a right and privilege most union members don’t have. Let’s not take it for granted and allow our colleagues to be given false information.
This pin also symbolizes your resolve and our union’s proud tradition of not allowing outside influences – the Civil Service Commission, the legislature, the Department, or whoever else – to divide or defeat us.
We’ve faced challenges in the past and the fact that MCO consistently maintains the highest rate of union membership speaks to the tenacity and dedication of our members.
Now we face another set of challenges and we know that one officer or facility can’t do it alone. It will take all of us fighting together to keep what we have earned and protect what others are so desperately trying to take away.
As always, it’s up to us and no one is going to do the work for us. MCO is a union of 6,100 individuals and we know that together there is leverage in numbers. It’s time to stand up for each other and show our solidarity. Wear this pin on your uniform for the rest of 2018 and let everyone know that together, We Are MCO!
The Michigan Civil Service Commission approved rule changes today aimed at standardizing several processes, including seniority calculations, overtime assignments and positions, and layoff and recall procedures. These changes aren’t scheduled to go into effect until January 2019.
The new rules also prohibit state employee unions from filing grievances on those issues. Additionally, commissioners reinstated the Rules of General Applicability, which, in cases of emergency, allows the commission to impose changes on state employees even if those changes conflict with contracts.
Commissioners Jase Bolger, Janet McClelland, and James Barrett voted in favor of the changes. Commissioner Robert Swanson voted against.
The vote was taken just before 2 p.m., after about four hours of comments from dozens of state employees, retirees, and others. Only two people – representing the Mackinac Center and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce – spoke in favor of the rule changes.
MCO President Tom Tylutki and MCO Vice President/Chief of Staff Andy Potter gave many comments urging the commission to vote no.
“24/7 operations are unique, and safeguards are already in place to run efficiently and safely,” Tylutki said. “MCO can go to any prison in the state, meet with the warden, and more times than not, get the issue resolved.”
The recruitment crisis could worsen, Tylutki said. MDOC wanted to hire 35 COs for the most recent class at Women’s Huron Valley, but could only hire 11, he said.
MCO comes to the table at bargaining not just with problems, but with solutions, Potter said.
“Our members do one of the most dangerous jobs that anyone can imagine,” Potter said to applause.
We understand the gravity these rule changes might have for members. As previously stated, these changes aren’t scheduled to go into effect until January 2019. We have more than one year to work with the MDOC to discuss the possibility of maintaining our current processes and policies that we’ve grown accustomed to.
In the coming months, MCO Board members and staff will be visiting each chapter to explain what these changes may mean and how we are going to address them moving forward. Please watch your emails, the website, and the members-only Facebook group for more information.
Similar to Right to Work, this was done to further silence your voice in the workplace. But in Right to Work, members stuck together, and we’re still standing strong. If we continue to stick together, we’ll weather this storm, too.
Thanks, members, for your support.