CLEARFIELD – Labor problems with corrections officers at the county jail was a hot topic at Tuesday’s Prison Board meeting.
Warden David Kessling explained to the board that on Thursday, everyone scheduled for the 8 a.m. shift “called off,” and they were unable to contact anyone to cover these hours.
The previous shift was mandated to stay and a lockdown was issued because they were unable to fully run the facility with their regular classes, visitors or allowing inmates in the yard, he said.
The same thing happened on Friday meaning and many workers were forced to work double shifts for two days. The jail remained on lockdown.
On Saturday some of the employees started to come to work as scheduled and things have returned to normal.
President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman asked if the jail employees were trying to send a message.
Commissioner Dave Glass responded that the investigation is continuing.
“If they are sending a message, it is unclear what it was.”
Glass noted that the commissioners have “all but begged the COs to come to the table” for their contract negotiations, but they want to take it to arbitration.
“We (the commissioners) are a little bit frustrated, because we want to negotiate.”
The overtime because of this situation cost the county from $3,400 to $4,000, Glass estimated.
In other business, Ammerman questioned Kessling regarding housing costs, which have gone down dramatically.
Kessling responded that he investigated a labor formula, which required the jail to add a CO for every 15 additional inmates, and discovered it is not something that has been a standard practice for “a long time.”
After checking with the commissioners and an attorney, it was decided that the jail no longer needed to follow this restriction, he said, and in August of 2021, they stopped.
Ammerman stated that he was not aware of this issue and didn’t remember discussing it at a previous meeting.
Glass noted that they thought this was a closed issue but admitted they probably should have reported this change.
“It was just an oversight.”
Ammerman pointed out this change has resulted in a huge savings for the county, which could total a million dollars this year.
“With this one thing, the warden has proved he is worth every dime. Good job.”