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Efficiency with a three-day weekend

County highway crew schedule changes

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published May 10 , 2007, 3:57 p.m.)

Traditionally, we don't wear black after Memorial Day or white after Labor Day.

Between those two holidays, Walworth County public works employees won't wear orange on Fridays.

The county and its public works highway union have agreed to change the summer work schedule from Monday through Friday, eight hours per day to Monday through Thursday, 10 hours per day.

Public Works Director Shane Crawford said administration and the highway union agreed to the temporary change of the existing contract that could potentially save $50,000 or more this summer.

The change in schedule will result in less travel and setup time, thus increasing the available time for work on projects, Crawford said. It will also save on fuel by having to travel fewer times to work sites.

Workers will also be safer by not being on the roads on Fridays, when traffic patters swell with weekend travelers, Crawford said.

The schedule change is experimental for this summer. It could become a part of the union's next contract if it is included in negotiations, which will come by the end of the year.

Highway workers will be on the four-day work week that will run from June 4 until Aug. 31.

"It's a shot," Crawford said. "We're trying to think outside the box and create more opportunities to create some savings."

About 60 other Wisconsin counties have some sort of condensed work week, Crawford said.

A slim majority of department's highway union members, made up of 38 employees, was amicable to the agreement, said Joe Conboy, president of the AFSCME AFL-CIO 1925 union chapter.

"We're hoping it will save the county some money," he said. "That's what we're all shooting for."

Fridays will be treated as a weekend day for the union employees. If an emergency arises, workers will made available just as they are now on the weekends, Crawford said.

"If something needs to be done, we'll get someone called and get it fixed," Crawford said. "Nothing will lay by the wayside."

Workers will still be compensated for overtime and have their two regular 15-minute breaks, plus a lunch period.

The workday will be from 6 a.m. until 4 p.m.


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