Union protests poor treatment and mandatory overtime at Louisville's juvenile jail

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Chants of "Help wanted! Apply here!" rang out Thursday from dozens protesters in front of Louisville juvenile jail.

It's kind of abrasive for job recruitment, but then again, that's the point.

Bobby Brown and AFSCME 2629 took their signs of contempt to the street in downtown Louisville. They were protesting over mandatory overtime, the closing of a jail facility and poor treatment.

"(I'm) very concerned with the moral," said Tony Rice with Quality Assurance & Compliance. "I mean, if they're outside picketing, I personally would want to know what I could do to assist. But if they're not coming to the table and talking to us, then we don't know how to combat their issues.'

Rice said jail leaders were blindsided by this demonstration. She said as of Thursday, youth detention is overstaffed with 136 employees, but 15 are still in training and not yet working.

"We have people come in the door and walk out before they finish their first or second week of training," Brown said.

Reports found the facility has the highest turnover rate of any metro Louisville department at 35 percent. It's also double the overtime budget and at four times the number of hours lost due to work-related injuries or illness. 

"If everybody came to work on day-to-day basis, we wouldn't be having these issues," Rice said.

Rice said roughly 20 people a day call out for FMLA, sick leave or workman's comp. Brown admits he's been of them. 

"If you have never worked in this building, you have to understand what kind of animal it can be," Brown said. "And if you are not rested or adequately restored, then you can have a problem."

The fallout comes at a time with the juvenile crime in Louisville on the rise and has caught the attention of city leaders. 

"We need to take action to make it safe for the children and safe for the workers," said Louisville Metro Councilman David James.

The protest comes down to one thing: public pressure to fix problems.

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