NYC COs to move to 12-hour shifts ahead of vaccine deadline

"We will do everything we can to fight this," said union president Benny Boscio


By Joseph Ostapiuk
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.
        
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The New York City Department of Corrections (DOC), an agency beleaguered by difficult conditions and a staffing shortage, will move to 12-hour shifts for its employees ahead of a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine mandate deadline that is rapidly approaching.

The effort, which was enabled by an executive order signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, will ensure adequate staffing in light of the Nov. 30, 5 p.m. deadline requiring DOC personnel to receive a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the agency said.

"The officers coming to work every day have gone above and beyond to support their city," said DOC Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi, in a written statement. "While we hope every member of service understands how important it is to be vaccinated, we also recognize that we must be prepared. This is a step that other city agencies took and it's one we felt was appropriate for us."

The 12-hour shifts will mostly be divided into two tours — from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. — with some split shifts to cover the other staffing needs.
The 12-hour shifts will mostly be divided into two tours — from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. — with some split shifts to cover the other staffing needs. (Todd Maisel/New York Daily News)

As of Monday, about 73% of uniformed DOC staff have been vaccinated, representing a considerable increase from the period of time when the mandate was initially announced, when the agency had just 46% of its staff vaccinated. Other city agencies saw significant increases in vaccination rates as deadlines approached.

De Blasio extended the agency's deadline as conditions within jails deteriorated during the pandemic amid a staffing crisis.

The DOC said it has held town halls, hosted family days, distributed materials and robocalls and also introduced a $500 vaccine incentive to encourage vaccination, among other efforts.

The 12-hour shifts will mostly be divided into two tours — from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. — with some split shifts to cover the other staffing needs, the DOC said. Wardens are responsible for notifying the officers of the changes to their tours.

Uniformed DOC staff members that do not have a pending reasonable accommodation request or show proof of having received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be given leave without pay beginning on Dec. 1.

[More: Hundreds of NYC COs face suspension as vaccine deadline passes]

Those officers will have to surrender their ID, firearms, vest and shield.

"Increasing their tours from eight to 12 hours and allowing the [Correction Department] to order them to work back-to-back 12-hour tours, 24 consecutive hours, without meals and rest is nothing short of torture," Boscio, the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association president, told the Daily News, adding, "We will do everything we can to fight this."
     
(c)2021 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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