Stations will begin distributing shift bid ballots at all stations and in the radio room this week. These ballots will help determine if stations will be participating in the shift bid MOU or if they will be opting out; voting will run from May 19 to June 2.
It’s important that everyone gets a chance to vote, so station management and union stewards will be reaching out to every agent they can possibly reach to have a ballot filled out. Chief Karisch is responsible for deciding how long each shift rotation will last, so the ballots cast will help make a determination.
Below are some frequently asked questions that should help you make an informed decision and a copy of the shift bid MOU is available here.
How long will each shift rotation last?
It will be up the chief, but at this point shift rotation length has not been decided. Pursuant to the MOU, shift rotations will be no shorter than three months. Agents are able to indicate their preference on the ballot, which Chief Karisch will take into consideration when he decides the shift rotation length.
How is it determined who gets which shift?
Seniority will be the determining factor, although requests based on special circumstances will be considered and may be approved by station management on a case-by-case basis.
I am a junior agent and I don’t want to get stuck on days/swings/midnights. Won’t I just get stuck on whichever shift the senior agents don’t want?
Historically, this has not been a problem in the other sectors in which a shift bid program has been implemented. 85-90% of agents get their first choice, and the remainder usually get their second choice – it’s incredibly rare for someone to get his/her third choice. Most agents have one shift that they really do not like and a shift bid program makes it possible to avoid that particular shift.
Agents who do not get their first choice on two consecutive shift bids will automatically get their first choice on the next shift bid.
I have less than two years in. Does that mean I don’t get a say in which shift I work? I don’t want to be stuck on days/swings/midnights.
There’s nothing preventing a station from allowing an agent with less than two years to bid for a shift and then assigning them to a requested shift, although a station could still move you if there is an absolute need to do so.
How will the master annual leave schedule be generated if we do not know which unit will be assigned to in advance?
In the sectors in which shift bids already exist, agents compete against everyone and are assigned to shifts regardless of which weeks they are taking annual leave. In the event that too many agents will be off during a particular week on a particular unit, volunteers will be solicited from the other units to cover that gap for the week.
Why didn’t the union ask me how I felt about shift bids before entering into an MOU with the agency?
Most stations in Del Rio Sector and the rest of Texas have attempted to implement a shift bid program at one point or another over the years at the request of members. The union was finally able to negotiate a shift bid program that brings Texas sectors in line with Arizona, California, and northern border sectors. Having stable shifts allows agents to better plan for family obligations and have a more stable work- and home-life.
After station swaps, the opportunity to bid for shifts has been the most frequently requested program throughout Del Rio Sector. The ballots going out to the stations this week is everyone’s chance to indicate their preference.
Can I still switch shifts for individual pay periods if I need to temporarily move to a different shift?
Yes, you may still do that. The shift mid MOU does not change the CBA.
Do other sectors bid for shifts?
Yes, Arizona, California, and the northern border bid for shifts and the program has been successful there. Keep this program in mind if you want to participate in the station swap. There’s a chance that agents from other sectors may prefer to transfer to a station that has a shift bid program, rather than transfer to a station that still rotates.
I’m a canine handler or EMT. Will I have to compete for shifts only within these groups?
So far, Del Rio Sector has indicated that there is a need to balance out the number of handlers and EMTs on each shift, but have not decided what they want to do with other certifications that require far less training. Handlers already compete among themselves, so there won’t be much of a change there and stations already balance out EMTs when they mix up the units each year. If there are small groups of employees in these categories, it’s possible to work it out among themselves to see who will work which shift if they can reach some kind of agreement.
I’m on a specialty unit that only works one shift. Does this MOU affect me?
If you are on a unit that only works one shift, then the shift bid MOU does not apply to you until to go back to the regular units at your station. However, if your unit works more than one shift, then the shift bid MOU applies.