County wanted to only let lessor paid Correctional Officers to work overtime and not the higher paid Sheriff Deputies.
Milwaukee County sheriff's deputies were unfairly denied the opportunity to work overtime at the jail and County Correctional Facility-South in Franklin and are owed back pay of at least $100,000, according to an arbitrator's ruling.
Both deputies and the lower-paid correctional officers were given the chance to volunteer to work overtime from 2002 through the end of 2010, with the most senior employees getting first crack at it. But in January 2011, Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. implemented a policy that only correctional officers would get overtime shifts at the jail and Franklin lockup.
The policy was never put in writing but nonetheless carried out as a money-saving move, according to the ruling by Raleigh Jones, a state arbitrator.
"Simply put, it's cheaper to use corrections officers to do that work than deputies. . . . That's why (the sheriff) made the change," according to the ruling, issued last week. The county argued that the move was necessitated by "huge budget deficits and cuts" faced by the sheriff's office, the ruling said.
Jones sided with the deputies union in deciding that voluntary overtime was an issue covered under a union contract. The county had argued that all overtime questions were a management right.
Dozens of deputies had overtime requests denied or were told not to even bother volunteering for overtime shifts, Roy Felber, president of the Milwaukee County Deputy Sheriffs' Association, said Tuesday. About 400 hours of overtime a month may be at stake, which could mean payback of as much as $200,000, he said.
About 50 deputies are owed back pay as a result of the ruling, Felber said.
The ruling does not set a payback amount, but calls for the county and the deputies union to negotiate the amount owed. If they're unable, the arbitrator could step in.
As of last month, only correctional officers now work in the jail and Franklin lockup, Felber said. Clarke championed the hiring of lower-paid correctional officers as a budget-saving tool starting in 2002 and has gradually increased their ranks while not filling deputy vacancies.