Youth Rehabilitation Center guards back at work at judge's order

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ST. CROIX - Officers at the Youth Rehabilitation Center have returned to work, after a judge on Tuesday morning issued a temporary restraining order to halt what the V.I. Human Services Department characterized as a sickout, according to a statement the V.I. Human Services Department released Tuesday afternoon.

The Office of Collective Bargaining filed a request for a temporary restraining order with V.I. Superior Court on Friday, seeking an order that would send 13 correctional officers back to the job site after they either called in due to reported illness or called out and did not report to work, the statement said.

Human Services employs correctional officers at the juvenile facility and runs it. The V.I. Corrections Bureau employs correctional officers at Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility and at the jails on St. Thomas and runs those facilities.

The release said that Human Services officials think the protest was connected to a grievance filed on April 24 by the Seafarers International Union against the Human Services Department and the Corrections Bureau, stemming from negotiated pay raises for officers that have not been implemented since 2010.

Corrections Bureau spokeswoman Juel Anderson said that the bureau was aware of the situation at YRC, but had not experienced any sickout or staffing issues outside of the ordinary. Short staffing is one of the major issues at the prison.

The Human Services release said Commissioner Christopher Finch objected to the actions of the YRC officers.

"We understand the frustrations over fiscal limitations, but an action of this magnitude is not acceptable," he said.

He also commended the correction officers and supervisors, as well as treatment, kitchen and education staff who worked during the staff shortage to maintain operations at the Youth Rehabilitation Center.

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