Oneida County Corrections Union President: ‘We Will Get There’
"Here we are again." That is what Oneida County Corrections Local 1249 Union President Luis Roman says about pending negotiations with the county over personnel issues at the jail.
Personnel shortages have been exacerbated by the pandemic. "COVID," Roman says, "is back in the jail."
Unlike other jobs that can be done from home, jobs at the jail cannot be done from home. They cannot shut down the jail. When colleagues are out, he says, it puts "amazing pressure on the men and women who work there."
Increased staff absences have to, instead, work overtime - and they are working a lot of overtime right now. Roman says, "(We) are working very hard." Roman himself was getting ready to start a 16-hour long shift.
"We all have children...pets...elderly parents. We are community members on top of being officers. We are fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers...We need a little lift from the county." Roman adds, "I am hopeful that that is going to happen."
The union president says that officers are not complaining because they do not like what they do. "I love my job. I enjoy my work. A lot of us know it's an important part of our community and would not have it any other way, We just wish that there were more of us."
He says that he is looking for a memorandum of understanding at this point. The union, he says, is looking to increase the overtime pay over holidays to be in line with other state units. "I would like to see the county legislators involved in out contract negotiations."
Roman, who - by union regulations - is not allowed to speak in public about the matter once negotiations begin, says that he feels the need to call attention to the issues now before he is unable to do so. Once negotiations begin Roman will not be able to speak about them unless there is a declaration of impasse.
He says "...We are still running a facility....We are in charge of human beings; we have to be on our game." When officers are working so much overtime, he says, it becomes increasingly difficult for officers to be on their game.
Despite the stress Roman says that he thinks that decision makers will eventually reach an agreement. "We work toward bettering our environment. The administration is working toward something better. I am hopeful that we will get there."