"We call on the Governor to take a hard look at our staffing and retention issues and the NJDOC to rethink this directive."
Effective immediately, The New Jersey Department of Corrections has suspended all vacation time, RDO's (regular days off), compensatory time and administrative leave time for Correctional Police Officers working in state facilities from now through Monday, January 3, 2022.
On the heels of another COVID-19 uptick in the Garden State, Correctional Police Officers' labor union said correctional staff found themselves with the "short end" of the stick.
In a statement released by NJDOC, officials said before the end of the cancellation period, the state agency shall determine if additional suspension time for such leaves is to be enacted.
When reached for comment, William Sullivan, President of the New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association Local 105, stated:
"This suspension is in direct violation of our contract with the state and civil service regulations.
For years, our union has voiced serious concerns to the state of New Jersey of an already ongoing staffing crisis, it is wholeheartedly disappointing to see our pleas have been ignored."
President Sullivan said The New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association Local 105 represents the approximately 5,000 Correctional Police and Parole Officers working in the state's prison facilities.
The number of officers on staff has been in sharp decline due to burnout, lack of recruitment interest and salary structure.
"The mental health of our staff is in grave danger," President Sullivan noted.
"Correctional Police officers have been tasked heavily since the start of the pandemic, inmate assaults on officers have reached a new high and now staff is being told we cannot use the time we earned to go home and see our families.
We understand that COVID-19 levels have been trending upward, but if the Department is in crisis, our prisons would be on lockdown, which is not the case.
Our hard-working officers paying the price, instead, is not the answer," President Sullivan said.
Several information requests sent to The NJ Department of Corrections went unanswered.