The Oneida County Jail typically has a staff of around 200 employees, but they currently have 64 vacancies, and Sheriff Robert Maciol is dealing with a number of problems that surround that.
"So you take the vacancies, the mandatory overtime, the more challenging inmates, other agencies offering better pay, better benefits….that’s kind of put us in the situation that we’re in right now," he said.
The situation involves more than hiring new recruits. Local 1249 Union President Luis Roman says all the mandatory overtime is taking a toll on the remaining employees.
"They’re looking for another job. They enjoy the job. They know it’s important for the community, but there’s a point where the people who work here that have had 10-12 years on the job are going to walk away from this job because of the overtime," said Roman.
Some employees have acquired over 1000 hours of overtime, but the Sheriff says the Commission of Corrections requires set positions and shifts be maintained.
"When someone has to work a 12 or 16 hour day, officers obviously can become tired, fatigued, maybe not as sharp because they’re overtired. There’s a lot of reasons that we are concerned with people working long hours, not to mention the toll it takes on your personal life," he said.
The situation at the jail is likely going to get worse. There are 14 employees eligible to retire now, and another 23 within the next 2 years.
"It’s very frustrating when someone comes on board. They get started. They like the job. They go through all the training, and then they leave us to do the same work for someone else and make more money," he said.
The Union would like to see a retention incentive for existing officers, a hiring bonus staggered over time, and a lateral transfer program to bring in officers from other counties, but it all needs approval from the County.
"It isn’t that simple. Everything has to go through a process," said Roman. "When it comes to the County, everything’s a process it doesn’t happen overnight."
There is some progress being made. The salary for new recruits and employees that have worked at the Correctional Facility for less than a year has gone up. The new base salary is now $43,602 a year. That’s an increase of around $7,700.