Erie County 911 Call Center Employees Ratify New Schedule Agreement

911Erie County— On October 6, CSEA members employed by Erie County Local 815 Central Police Services 911 call center voted to approve a pilot agreement to create a 12-hour work day schedule. A majority of personnel voted to approve what they consider to be an improvement to their work-life balance. There are 33 CSEA represented employees in the bargaining unit who were eligible to vote on this new agreement.

The deal between the county administration and the employee union will now implement a schedule of 12-hour shifts aimed at ensuring that no staff member works more than three days in a row, guaranteeing every other weekend off, and sharply reducing or eliminating forced overtime.

From the start of this year through midsummer, Erie County 911 call-takers reported high levels of staff turnover, high vacancy rates and scheduled vacation time resulted in a dangerous situation in which those being asked to respond to highly stressful crisis calls were forced to work full-time shifts seven or eight days in a row, with some employees working up to 16 hours a day. These employees answer all 911 calls from the City of Buffalo along with all those made from mobile phones throughout the county – more than half a million calls a year.

Denise Szymura, CSEA Erie County Local 815 President says making this operational change to work schedules will ultimately improve public services and perhaps save a life. She said, “When issues arise in the delivery of public services, especially public safety, it’s a comfort to know we have partners in local government who want the best for our community. This agreement ratified by the call center employees is a win-win scenario for the residents of Erie County.”

The schedule change will go into effect January 1, 2017 and be implemented on a six month trial basis. Although the county could put the schedule into place sooner, the union and the county has agreed to wait until the beginning of the 2017 to honor existing employee vacation requests through the holiday season.

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 CSEA is New York State’s leading union, representing employees of New York State and its counties, towns, villages, school districts, library systems, authorities and public corporations. Together with a growing population of private sector members and retirees, CSEA forms a union 300,000 strong. It is also the largest affiliate (and Local 1000) of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) which, in turn, is one of the largest affiliates of the AFL-CIO.