State ends special prison guard overtime rules

MADISON, WI &#8211 Governor Scott Walker’s new pay plan for state employees would end a unique overtime benefit for Wisconsin prison workers. For years guards who called in sick and then worked the next shift got regular pay for one shift and time-and-a-half for the other. The Walker pay plan, announced yesterday, would grant regular pay for both shifts. And any overtime would be spread evenly throughout the entire corrections’ workforce, instead of being offered to the most senior employees first.

State employment relations’ director Greg Gracz said it would save the Corrections’ Department $5-million a year. The changes are part of the administration’s first pay plan after union employees lost most of their collective bargaining privileges earlier this year. Officials said some types of supplemental pay from the old union contracts were included in the package, while others – including the prison overtime system – were not.

The pay plan freezes basic pay for two years. And merit pay could only be awarded by the employment relations’ department – and not by the employees’ department heads.

The package also tightens up the grievance procedure. Those complaints would now be heard by the management’s employee relations department instead of independent arbitrators. And the administration can change labor provisions if they create quote, “unintended consequences.”

Republican Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald said most state workers would see few changes. But Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca calls the plan a power grab that strips away the rights of middle-class workers. Bryan Kennedy of the American Federation of Teachers says the plan quote, “chips away at Wisconsin’s once-proud civil service system.” The changes would take effect January first, after approval by a legislative panel.


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