MCO letter to Director Washington on annual leave DOM

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.

Stay safe.
– Byron

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.

Byron Osborn
MCO State President