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Prison guards' union accuses state of unfair labor practice

The Teamsters Union on Wednesday filed a new complaint against the state Department of Corrections, challenging time-off restrictions instituted by Gov. Rick Scott's administration dealing with earned time off for more than 20,000 correctional officers.

In a news release, the Tampa-based Teamsters Joint Council 75 accuses the state of an unfair labor practice "by enforcing illegal working conditions against the officers ... which have prevented officers from taking earned time off."

Under the policy, the Teamsters said, officers are required to work holidays, for which they are given what is known as special compensatory time. But the policy requires officers to use the special comp time within six months or they lose it, and the Teamsters say officers are not being allowed to take the time due to critical staffing shortages at many prisons. The Teamsters said they tried to get the Legislature to revise the policy in the 2013 session but lawmakers declined to intervene (state law requires legislators to resolve bargaining impasses between the state and labor unions).

The union filed its complaint with the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) in Tallahassee.

Ann Howard, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, said the agency was not yet aware of the complaint. Recently, the agency agreed as part of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor to give more than $600,000 in back pay and comp time to more than 700 officers at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford who were denied part of their shift pay over a two-year period.

-- Steve Bousquet