State police, troopers union at odds over shorter-day-longer-week schedules

By Janon Fisher
PoliceOne.com Correspondent
) -- New Jersey's State Police Superintendent and the union representing troopers continue to spar over proposed schedule changes for January that would reduce 10-hour tours to eight hours but extend workweeks from four to five days.

Citing productivity shortfalls in the current 10-hour-day, four-day workweek Superintendent Col. Carson Dunbar has sought a change beginning in January.

"In evaluating the current situation the superintendent found that the 10-hour days were inefficient as a management tool," said New Jersey State Police spokesman, John Hagerty.

Carson found that during the three shift changes that occur each workday, a two-hour overlap occurred between when one shift ended and another began. The superintendent also found that during these two hours staffing was doubled but productivity did not increase, Hagerty said.

"It's a management situation," Hagerty said of the superintendent's evaluation, "You would expect a doubling of productivity; there was no increase in productivity."

In fact, some troopers try to get out of fulfilling that two-hour commitment during shift change double staffing, Hagerty told PoliceOne.com.

So Dunbar turned to the rank and file for input.

In mid-October Dunbar sent questionnaires to 300 troopers in eight of the 32 state police stations across New Jersey asking what type of work week schedule they would prefer: 8-hour, 10-hour or 12-hour days.

But the State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey, which represents 1,615 of the state’s 2,700 troopers, advised against filling out the questionnaire, Hagerty told PoliceOne.com.

"We got 20 forms back; an inconsequential number to get a position on what the rank and file would prefer," said Hagerty.

Hagerty would not detail the union's position on the changes, but said the union saw safety problems in changing the workweek from 10-hour days. The troopers' preference, he said, would be 12-hour days because they would translate into additional days off per year.

"Since we had no significant input from the rank and file or the union, the superintendent made a management decision," he added.

While Dunbar has decided that as of January troopers will work 8-hour days, 5 days a week, the change is not a certainty.

Hagerty told PoliceOne.com that after Dunbar decided to start the new schedule in January the troopers' union and individual troopers came forward asking him to reconsider.

And he is reconsidering, according to Hagerty.

"He's considering putting the questionnaire back out there," he said.

Tonight the troopers union is scheduled to hold a membership meeting at the Jersey seashore town of Manasquan at 7 p.m. during which the scheduling issue is expected to be addressed, a union spokesman told PoliceOne.com.

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