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Officers working to get their OT paid

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - A lawsuit was filed against the Government of Guam by close to a dozen Department of Corrections officers who are tired of the waiting game in getting paid their OT.  These same officers say they're being targeted by the director. 

More concerns are being raised about DepCor decision to stop the 10 officers who filed a lawsuit against the agency from accruing more overtime. But the director defends his actions, saying it's not a form of retaliation.  J.B. Palacios contends that it's nothing personal when he decided to issue a personnel order stopping the 10 officers that filed a lawsuit for overtime from accruing even more OT.  

"I look at the silver lining and I say to myself that they themselves know that I don't take this thing personally. Contrary to their claim of retaliation, I do not take it personally," he told KUAM News.

However, local law could mean the action taken by DepCor may be illegal. 22 GCA 3217 states that failure to pay wages or unpaid wages includes any scheme whereby an employer deprives an employee of the employee's rightful wages.  In terms of paying out what owed to employees, Palacios says he met with the Attorney General's Office and the Department of Administration today, informing them that they are just waiting for the budget office to load the money into their account.

Said Palacios, "This was not triggered by the lawsuit, the intent to pay these officers for their overtime was always there; there was never any intention not to pay them."

However, as we reported, Bureau of Budget & Management Research director Bertha Duenas wants a justified reason for the overtime. The ten officers filed the class action lawsuit last week Friday hoping some action would be taken to get was owed to them. But Palacios says the delay in OT is not something new and did not just happen under his watch.  "These same officers that are fighting the lawsuit, they've gone through two full years without not getting paid overtime at the Department of Corrections, they've gone through when I first got here as the director, they were behind 17 pay periods," he said.

DepCor officers are owed more than $1 million in overtime for the past 13 pay periods. While these officers are fed up with the actions being taken by the director, KUAM News has confirmed that DepCpr workers are gathering a petition that states no officer is going to work past 8 hours per day.

Palacios meanwhile puts the blame on one of the officers listed in the lawsuit, claiming he is responsible for the officers exceeding the overtime cap in the first place.  "The problem that I have with this lawsuit is that everything pointing that management failed to do this and management failed to do that," he shared.  "Well, the individual that's leading the charge, Lieutenant Antone Aguon, acted on behalf of management when he called these officers to come and work overtime. All 10 pay periods they're claiming that haven't paid, so if management failed, then Lt. Aguon - you failed."

Attorney Dan Somerfleck, who represents the officers, tells KUAM News that he is very concerned with the recent personnel action taken. He declined to comment any further.

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