Assets And Liabilities Of Organized Labor And The 40-Hour Work Week In The Conservation Enforcement Agency

Historically, the Michigan conservation officer has worked as the situation dictated- a concept of total job responsibility- i.e., he worked 7 days a week if necessary, or as many hours daily as required, to fulfill the sundry functions of responsibility in his assigned work zone. I can recall when I started with the Department in 1941 that officers were required to work seven days a week. There was a job to do and we worked as the job demanded. In 1946, the work week was modified to five days, but with no hour limitation per day, and days worked in excess of five entitled the officer to compensatory days off. Many of the officers, nonetheless, continued to work extra days as necessary to do the job. On July 1, 1966, twenty years later. due mainly to union but also employee association pressure. a Civil Service overtime directive mandated compansation to the officers at time and one-half for hours worked in excess of 80 hours per bi-weekly pay period. The officer had the option of electing whether to be paid for the overtime or liquidate it as compensable time. This was an entirely new concept for conservation officers and it is putting it mildly to say that we had difficulty in adjusting to the new policy. We did not believe then and still do not believe that our conservation officers can do the job on an hourly basis. Several times in 1966, we presented alternative plans to Civil Service asking consideration for the total job responsibility concept. Civil Service either rejected or tabled our proposals. During the 1966 fall hunting seasons, we authorized a maximum of 160 hours of overtime hoping to receive a supplemental appropriation for this amount from the Legislature. When the appropiation was received, it was less than the amount requested, and we were able to get by only because a considerable amount of the overtime worked was liquidated by the officers in lieu of receiving pay. The following fiscal year (1967-68), the legislative appropriation for law enforcement, as well as all state services, involved drastic cuts and did not provide money for payment of overtime. Although faced with a fall period more critical than in previous years due to an early woodcock and teal season, spawning steelhead and salmon, and an increased pre-season deer hunting buildup, we had no alternative but to restrict all officers to a strict 80-hour pay period regardless of the consequences. The dilemma was, in part, resolved by many officers agreeing to liquidate overtime by compensatory time off at the rate of time and onehalf. In other words, if an officer worked 120 hours of overtime, he was subsequently given 180 hours of compensatory time off.

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