BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – 911 dispatchers for Erie County’s Central Police Services want to make sure they have a say about their schedules moving forward. They weighed in on a need for a vote during a meeting of the legislature’s Public Safety Committee at the old County Hall on Thursday morning.
The discussions revolve around two options for scheduling models. One option would have the dispatchers continue working 12 hour shifts for two or three days in a row, as they have been doing on a trial basis since earlier this year.
The other option would put the dispatchers back on their former eight hour shifts in 21 day rotations that had some working seven or eight days in a row. Some dispatchers called that a nightmare schedule when they spoke to members of the Public Safety Committee this week.
Denise Szymura, the president of the CSEA Local 815 Erie Unit told News 4 the eight hour shifts led to “low morale, forced overtime, excessive sick time use, and employees leaving.”
Central Police Services dispatchers voted last fall to try the new 12 hour shift model for six months starting in January, to bring the CPS dispatchers’ schedules more in line with other local dispatch centers and to help change the working conditions which some dispatchers say prompted some employees to leave CPS.
But, the 12 hour shift model is not covered under the union’s current contract, so they’re working under a memorandum of understanding with management through next month. When the trial period is over, the union expects to have the employees decide which scheduling model they like better. “We will schedule a vote with the employees and they will determine whether they want to continue with the 12 hour shifts or go back to a different type of schedule,” Szymura said.
The problem, however, was that heading into Thursday’s meeting, some dispatchers had heard rumors that there would be no vote. They had heard talk that perhaps management had already decided what to do about the schedule moving forward.
The CPS Commissioner assured lawmakers on Thursday that no decision had been made. “There are absolutely no plans to stop it, and conversely, we have not made the final decision to continue it, as well. I think we still are in our fact gathering pattern,” Central Police Services Commissioner James Jancewicz told members of the Public Safety Committee. “We will certainly have that by the end of the month and will be in compliance with the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) that was agreed upon with the union.”
As things stand now, it looks like the employees will still be able to vote on their schedule situation at the end of the six month trial period.
Leaders of the Public Safety Committee said they will continue to track the issue.