Dear Local 2748 Member,
On July 14, 2009 the union prevailed with an umpired arbitration decision that effectively awards overtime compensation for an Agent who was placed on administrative leave while being investigated under PREA. This Agent will be compensated for the missed opportunity to work overtime. This arbitration decision that will hopefully encourage the Department of Corrections to conduct these demeaning and hurtful investigations with a greater degree of empathy and due diligence. In this situation, Agent Joe Starkey was placed on administrative leave for over two months while management investigated an allegation of misconduct. The period of administrative leave occurred in August-October, 2008. Agent Starkey and the Union have been actively seeking grievance resolution for nearly 1 year.
The allegation was made by a female offender who was serving conditional jail time as a result of an alternative to revocation. The ATR was based on offender failing to report police contact, new charges of prescription fraud in MN, and illegal drug use. On the surface it seemed very clear that this offender had absolutely no credibility and was making allegations in a desperate attempt to be released from custody. The Department conducted their PREA investigation in a little over 2 months and found that the allegations were completely "unfounded". Agent Starkey returned to work, but faced the types of stigma often attached to allegations of this ilk. Additionally, Agent Starkey incurred attorney's fees as a result of a collateral investigation conducted by the Dept. of Justice. The Union, on behalf of Agent Starkey, filed a grievance with the employer asking that he be made whole by compensating him for the hours of overtime compensation that he missed as a result of the Departments long, drawn-out investigation. The Department initially agreed that Agent Starkey was due some compensation, but stood firm on the idea that he should be required to actually work the hours to earn the money. The Union disagreed, primarily on the premise that one is not made whole in a situation such as this by being required to do more of the Department's work. This issue went before an arbitrator, who determined that Agent Starkey should be entitled to the compensation for missed overtime opportunities without having to actually work the hours. The decision seemed to suggest that the Department should exercise more diligence and be more timely in their investigations and even that the Department should perhaps consider alternative work assignments for employees rather than placing us on administrative leave with such haste.
The arbitrator did not set a specific number of hours for which Mr. Starkey is to be compensated. Instead, the arbitrator left that determination in the hands of the Union and the Department to resolve. The Union is actively engaged in discussion with the State to reach a meaningful agreement in this matter. It is, however, very clear that no matter what that number becomes, Agent Starkey can not be truly made whole for the irreparable harm such allegations have done to his reputation/legacy as a fine and very reputable member of his community and Probation and Parole Agent for the State.
Local 2748 President