Byline: Lee Hammel
The Worcester County Sheriff's Office has made a $161,000 payment to members of its correction officer union to settle a claim of a contract violation.
The payment was $500 per eligible member of Local 550 of New England Police Benevolent Association, which represents the correction officers and sergeants at the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction. The violation was hiring 21 temporary correction officers in November 2010, about one month after then-Sheriff Guy Glodis signed a contract prohibiting such hires, said Chief Deputy Sheriff David H. Tuttle.
The settlement was signed in June.
Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis said that General Counsel Andrew Abdella "advised me that this was a case in which we could not prevail. I instructed counsel to find the best settlement possible and was extremely pleased when it was settled for what we considered pennies on the dollar, far below the authorized amount."
The sheriff's own calculation was that the department was exposed to $462,000 in liability for hiring the temporary officers, who reduced union members' opportunity for overtime shifts and were not eligible for union membership, Chief Deputy Tuttle said.
The chief deputy said that Sheriff Evangelidis ended the practice in March 2011, three months after he became sheriff. He said that all but three of the temp officers were invited to become part of the 29-member class that became permanent correction officers in December.
Warren Lohnes Jr., Local 550 president, said the union believed it was owed $297,000 but settled for $161,000. He said that Mr. Glodis and Sheriff Evangelidis share responsibility for the contract violation, because Sheriff Evangelidis continued for three months what Mr. Glodis started, knowing it was a violation.
Officer Lohnes expressed surprise that the administration would be happy over paying the $161,000 when "it would have been cheaper, in fact cost nothing, simply to not violate the...