Thursday, November 27, 2014

AFSCME Sues County for Breaking Contract Promise to Correctional Employees

As previously reported, Boss Abele tried to go on a privatization binge in his 2015 budget.  When he didn't get his way, he had a tantrum and fired his head of the Department of Administration.

Unfortunately, Abele did get at least one thing through, which was defunding 91 positions that were meant to provide medical and psychiatric services to inmates at the Milwaukee County Jail and at the House of Correction.  This stems from a court order for Milwaukee County to temporarily hire a private firm to manage these services because Boss Abele and his buddy Sheriff David Clarke willfully failed to hire the necessary staff.

The court order also made it clear that the county workers would not be displaced and that their spots would be filled by the private company employees only when they became open when a county worker quit or retired.

By not funding these positions, Abele thought he would get around that order.

The union won't allow Abele to go back on his word.  Boyd McCamish, Executive Director of AFSCME District Council 48, issued the following press release on Wednesday:
Boyd McCamish, Executive Director of Milwaukee District Council 48, AFSCME, announced today that the Union is filing suit against Milwaukee County and Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc.

Armor, a Florida corporation, has provided medical and mental health services for inmates at the Jail and House of Correction using a mixture of its own employees and County employees since 2013. McCamish made the announcement after the County adopted a budget that deletes funding for approximately 91 County health care jobs at the Jail and House of Correction.

In 2013, a State judge ordered the County to sign a contract with Armor to provide health services for inmates at the Jail and House of Correction. The contract, signed by the County and Armor with the court’s approval, promised that County employees would continue to be employed at the Jail and House and Correction but would work under Armor’s supervision. As part of the contract, Armor would provide its own personnel, but no County employees would be displaced to make room for additional Armor employees. Only as County employees quit or retired would Armor be able replace them with its own employees.

“Chris Abele has left a trail of broken promises in his wake as County Executive. We are asking a Court to clarify that the County must keep its contractual promises to the health care workers employed by the County Jail and House of Correction and to let them continue to work until they retire or quit.

“That is what the County promised in 2013 and that is what should happen. The 2015 budget may have not funded these positions, but the contract between Armor and the County says that the workers can’t be fired to make room for Armor employees. If the County thinks its budget permits it to violate the rights of members of the Union who were promised under the contract that they would not be displaced, the Union is going to fight the County in the courts to protect its members,” McCamish said.

McCamish said that if any members of District Council 48 who work at the Jail or the House of Correction receive layoff or termination letters, they should immediately contact the Union or its attorney, Mark Sweet, who will represent the Union in its suit against Armor and the County.
It should be noted that Abele's and Clarke's refusal to do their job and having the private company manage these services have already dinged the taxpayers for an extra million dollars. Now, it's probably going to cost taxpayers even more money to first defend the indefensible actions taken by Abele and then to make those 91 workers whole again.

On top of all that, Armor doesn't have a very good record in providing proper care and has been sued multiple times.

Despite his claims to the contrary, it is increasingly obvious that Boss Abele is neither a fiscal conservative nor a good representative of the people.  Of the plutocracy, yes, of the people, no.

1 comment:

  1. I just don't understand how county is able to go back on their promise of keeping county workers county. Sad !!