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Michigan Changes Overtime Rules; $4 Million Savings on Prison Budget

In order to cut operating costs, Michigan has changed the way state employees can receive overtime. Statewide, the change is expected to save $8 million annually, with half of the savings coming from prisons.

The change, which became effective October 1, 2008, comes as the result of a contract with the state employees union. Under the old rules, overtime hours started as soon as the employee worked 80 hours. The new rules prohibit counting sick days toward regular work hours, but allow vacation time to be counted.

In October 2008, the state auditory general’s office issued a report that said further saving could be gained if contract rules were changed to allow the Michigan Department of Corrections to assign guards temporarily to other prisons.

The guards’ union, Michigan Corrections Organization (MCO), resisted that move during negotiations. While guards can be permanently reassigned, the union said temporary assignments are dangerous.

“You develop a certain trust with your colleagues,” says MCO’s executive director, Mel Grieshaber. “You complement each other, working with your partners and people you know.”

The union fails to see savings for the state by allowing it to assign guards to temporarily cover vacant slots at nearby prisons. “We think the department is exaggerating the need for temporarily moving guards to other prisons,” says Grieshaber. “I don’t see any particular savings from that.”

Source: Chicago Tribune

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