Representatives of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association have met with Oklahoma State Penitentiary Warden Randy Workman to discuss overtime, staffing and safety at the facility and hope to meet soon with Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones and wardens at other facilities concerning similar issues.
The Association had been working with its OSP chapter in McAlester to resolve issues at the prison, and, in late August, OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley, Region 11 Board member Jess Callahan and State Sen. Richard Lerblance met with chapter members to establish a plan.
The following issues were summarized in a letter sent to Workman:
Overtime: OPEA chapter members would like to discuss department policy and practices regarding correctional officers being forced to work overtime. It appears that the non-uniformed staff is carrying the bulk of the furloughs because officers are working overtime and non-uniformed personnel are not. OPEA members would like to discuss how much overtime has been paid out over the last six months.
Staffing: OSP is staffed at 68 percent, and OPEA members would like to discuss requests the warden has submitted to increase staffing levels and find out what he thinks the breaking point is for the facility. Members also have concerns regarding shakedowns.
Safety: Members are concerned with the 68-percent staffing level and the excessive overtime correctional officers are required to work. Members also would like to discuss the fact that during officers’ furlough days, non-uniformed staff must assist the remaining officers.
Workman met with representatives from the OSP chapter and Zearley in late September, and they discussed each issue included in the letter. Workman said he is concerned about the lack of candidates applying for positions at OSP.
While all the issues were not resolved, the meeting was productive and informative. OPEA expects to request a meeting with Jones to discuss the issues further.
Since this process got underway at OSP, OPEA members have discovered that other correctional facilities have similar problems with overtime and staffing.