Union: Kansas prison forcing officers to work 16-hour shifts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A union representing Kansas state employees says some officers at the state’s maximum-security prison outside El Dorado are being required to work 16-hour shifts.

The Kansas Organization of State Employees disclosed Friday that it filed a grievance earlier this month with Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood. KOSE Executive Director Robert Choromanski said the practice is dangerous.

Choromanski says he received an email a couple of weeks ago from the KDOC, stating employees would be shifting from eight to 12 hour work days.

It is something, he says, is allowed under their collective bargaining agreement.

Choromanski says shortly after that, he started receiving emails from correctional officers, saying they were also being pressured to work a mandatory four hours of overtime, on top of that 12-hour shift.

“That is a total, blatant violation of our memorandum of agreement, it cannot be done like that,” said Choromanski.

Choromanski broke down exactly what the memorandum of agreement allows correctional officers to work.

” They cannot be mandated to work more than 12 hours in a 24 hour period, the only time you can work more than 12 hours in a 24 hour period is if there is an officially declared emergency,” said Choromanski.

Which was the case during the incident at the El Dorado Correctional Facility on June 29th.

Choromanski says during incidents like that correctional officers are allowed to work up to 18 hours, with six hours of consecutive rest.

However, he did stress the toll the long hours can take on these correctional officers.

“It decreases response time among correctional officers, anybody that is working more than eight hours a day, once you go beyond the eight hours, your productivity, and alertness and response time decreases substantially,” said Choromanski.

 

Choromanski says the corrections secretary has until August 2nd to formally respond to the grievance.

Department of Corrections spokesman Todd Fertig declined to comment and called the grievance a personnel matter.