Changes continue at a regular pace in agencies under the governance of the Chapter on Public Safety. Parole has seen operational changes along with several new members. This past year saw a proposal from the Governor to consolidate all children services which would have a direct impact on the Department of Youth Services. A process the Chapter has been monitoring closely. A new Commissioner is on board at Corrections with a number of recent management changes.
The merger of children service, with consequences for DYS, initially appeared to be on a fast track. Although recently movement has not been as pronounced. More recently we were able to address concerns of the Clinical Social Workers in the agency. The addition of a new Parole Board Chair and several new members has resulted in operational changes which effect not only Parole but Corrections as well. We will be working with the Chapter’s representatives in Parole to address those changes.
For the first time unions were at the table during the selection process for a new DOC Commissioner. This gave the unions the opportunity to express our concerns and hopes in a commissioner. It also gave the Chapter exposure to several community stakeholders in Corrections. Initially it appears our new commissioner has heard some of those concerns. The Labor/Management process has been more open and fruitful, he has established increased communication and involvement with the union.
There are a number of efforts moving forward within the Chapter. We have established a Workload Committee to address overlapping duties and outdated procedures. We will also address workloads in general, and the direct impact on providing needed services. The Chapter has been closely monitoring the more recent DOC transfer and promotions to ensure compliance with the contract and Civil Service.
Corrections recently graduated over twenty new CPOs from the Academy. We are looking at another twenty some in the upcoming class and will be working with the Commissioner for additional positions in a proposed class early next year. Staffing will continue to be a prime concern of the union.
The Chapter is also working with the DOC to initiate a mediation program. The Department has secured funding for this program which will hopefully address individual conflicts before they requires management and union attention. The chief mediator was at a recent Chapter meeting outlining the program and emphasizing it’s confidential nature.
The Chapter and Local will be closely monitoring Pension Reform legislation presently in the legislature. Public hearings have increased at the State House in recent weeks. We will continue to testify and lobby on behalf of Chapter related legislation. We will also be closely monitoring a “special commissioner” resulting from a outside section of the budget. This commission calls for a review of the “criminal justice system” which could directly impact both Parole and DOC.
Finally I would like to thank all the Chapter Board members and stewards for their efforts. It is only through their effort that we are able to be more effective.