Prison work­ers com­plain pay­checks were shorted

Base pay, over­time pay in­cor­rect, union says; state prom­ises a speedy fix

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Michael Dresser and Car­rie Wells mdresser@balt­sun.com cwells@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/michaelt­dresser twit­ter.com/cwellssun

Prob­lems with the state’s new pay­roll sys­tem have kept some prison em­ploy­ees from re­ceiv­ing pay they are due, leav­ing some short of cash as the hol­i­days ap­proach.

The state’s largest pub­lic em­ployee union and Gov. Larry Ho­gan’s ad­min­is­tra­tion are now ar­gu­ing over how many work­ers are af­fected and how se­verely.

Pa­trick Mo­ran, pres­i­dent of AFSCME Coun­cil 3, said Wed­nes­day that fail­ures in the state’s Work­day com­puter pro­gram have short­changed em­ploy­ees on base pay and over­time in the Divi­sion of Cor­rec­tion over the past four pay pe­ri­ods.

He com­pared the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s han­dling of the in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy chal­lenge to the O’Mal­ley ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fum­bling of the Af­ford­able Care Act roll­out in 2013. “This is like the health care ex­change de­ba­cle all over again,” Mo­ran said. “This is like [for­mer Lt. Gov.] An­thony Brown’s de­ba­cle, only on Ho­gan’s watch.”

Ho­gan spokesman Doug Mayer called the com­par­i­son “lu­di­crous.”

“This is clearly a po­lit­i­cal game of some sort, which is un­for­tu­nate be­cause we’re talk­ing about peo­ple’s pay­checks,” he said.

Gary W. McLhin­ney, direc­tor of pro­fes- sional stan­dards in the Department of Pub­lic Safety and Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices, said Wed­nes­day that the department had heard from 19 em­ploy­ees who had re­ceived less than their base pay for this week’s pay pe­riod. The department em­ploys 10,000.

He said he did not know how many em­ploy­ees were shorted on over­time pay — the union’s top com­plaint. “It’s not ac­cept­able even for a sin­gle em­ployee not to get their cor­rect pay,” McLhin­ney said. But he in­sisted that the num­ber shorted on base pay — down from 86 the week be­fore — was “an ex­tremely low er­ror rate.”

“When you have hu­man be­ings in­volved in the process, mis­takes are go­ing to be made,” McLhin­ney said.

He said all prob­lems with back pay and over­time will be re­solved in time for the pay­checks of Dec. 14.

AFSCME, one of the Repub­li­can gov­er­nor’s most vo­cif­er­ous crit­ics, has tra­di­tion­ally aligned with Democrats.

About two dozen cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers from AFSCME’s Coun­cil 67, which rep­re­sents em­ploy­ees at the state-run Bal­ti­more Cen­tral Book­ing and In­take Cen­ter, protested out­side the fa­cil­ity Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. They said they’ve been told re­peat­edly the prob­lem will be re­solved by their next pay pe­riod, only to find the next pay­check short, or to show sick leave or over­time miss­ing.

Cor­rec­tional of­fi­cer Ciara Hall said she’s been shorted 82 hours of pay.

She said man­age­ment gave her let­ters to give to her cred­i­tors and land­lord ex­plain­ing the sit­u­a­tion, but she’s wor­ried her car could be re­pos­sessed or that she could lose Cor­rec­tional of­fi­cer Sheila Brown, left, leads fel­low of­fi­cers and union sup­port­ers in a protest Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon out­side Cen­tral Book­ing and In­take Cen­ter in Bal­ti­more. her home.

Hall said she wor­ries about long-term dam­age to her credit. She said she hasn’t yet bought Christ­mas presents for her fam­ily.

Sgt. Rene Greene, an of­fi­cer at the Jes­sup Cor­rec­tional In­sti­tu­tion, said his Christ­mas might have to come late this year be­cause the state has not paid him the over­time he is due for the past six weeks.

Greene, a union shop ste­ward for Coun­cil 3, said he’s never seen such se­vere pay­roll prob­lems in his 13 years with the cor­rec­tions divi­sion.

He said he had to take out a $300 pay­day loan to make ends meet. He said the loan will cost him $420 to pay back

Glen Mid­dle­ton, executive direc­tor of Coun­cil 67, said the pay short­age could cause a safety is­sue in­side the pre­trial fa­cil­ity.

“When the in­mates know that you’re up­set, then they try to take ad­van­tage of it be­cause they want to get out,” he said. “It’s a se­cure place, but it could be­come un­se­cure if you don’t take care of the em­ploy­ees that pro­vide the se­cu­rity.”

Eric Shirk, a spokesman for the Department of Bud­get and Man­age­ment, said the con­tract for the new pay­roll sys­tem was ap­proved un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Gov. Martin O’Mal­ley.

Board of Pub­lic Works records show that the state awarded Oak­land Con­sult­ing Group of Lan­ham a con­tract worth up to $105 mil­lion for 15 years for “hu­man cap­i­tal man­age­ment soft­ware” in De­cem­ber 2013.

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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