News release from Tennessee State Employees Association
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee State Employees Association today is calling for the repeal of the 28-day work cycle within the Tennessee Department of Correction.
The 28-day schedule allows TDOC under a FLSA exemption to pay correctional officers overtime, time-and-a-half, after working 171 hours during a 28-day period. According to TDOC, this change allows them to more effectively manage their overtime costs. But, TSEA believes the cycle has caused more problems than it solved.
“We are at a breaking point with this system,” TSEA President Bryan Merritt said. “Since this cycle was implemented, we have heard about too many officers getting hurt, frequently working double shifts until exhaustion, dealing with lags in overtime pay, and fearing for their safety while at work due to low staffing. It is time to scrap the 28-day cycle and either return to a 40-hour work week, or find some other equitable system for these state employees.”
During a presentation before a special out-of-session House State Government committee, TDOC listed 2015’s turnover rate at 39.6 percent. That figure is up from last year’s 29.6 percent, which already had Tennessee ranked 14 of 15 for average turnover rate percentage among the southern states.
TSEA believes the 28-day cycle has resulted in drastically raising TDOC’s turnover rate, caused severe lags in overtime pay for correctional officers, reduced staffing levels to dangerous levels in our state prisons, and is pushing our hard-working officers to their breaking point both physically and financially.
Prior to the 28-day schedule, officers received time-and-a-half after working 40 hours in a 7-day period, similar to the private sector.
“Repealing the 28-day cycle will not solve every problem, but it’s definitely the first step,” Merritt said.