Government employees sent home in heat

Posted at 8:53 PM, Jul 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-26 11:05:32-04

Temporary air conditions sit outside of the Coggs Human Services Center at 12th and Vliet Streets in Milwaukee. They're much-needed relief at a building that felt more like an oven last week than a workplace.

"It was steaming, it was hot in there," said Kalin Crampton, a state employee.

The state uses the first two floors, the county is on the third floor. Employees in the entire building watched the thermostat tick up and up.

"Wednesday is when you noticed the heat. Thursday was pretty hot, and then by Friday, it was hard to even just sit and work," said Crampton.

Wednesday's high temperature was 93 degrees, as was Thursday's. Friday it was 90 degrees.

The county's facility management monitored the heat. By Friday, officials tell TODAY'S TMJ4 the building couldn't keep a comfortable temperature. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said it was between 73 and 79 degrees when their inclement weather policy kicked in. It gives employees several choices when bad weather hits.

"When inclement weather conditions have been identified, employees who have received approval to miss scheduled work due to inclement weather may use accrued annual leave, accrued holiday time, or compensatory time to cover the absence. With the approval of the appointing authority, employees may make up lost work time or take leave without pay," explains the DHS policy.

The Milwaukee County Executive's office said they also gave employees choices. Employees may stay in the building, use paid time off, or relocate to another building to keep working. They said people all chose to stay, or take time off.

State employee Kalin Crampton said the options put some workers in a tough spot.

"People that wanted their hours, some people that weren't eligible for vacation days and paid time, those are some people that were kind of upset," he said.

The County Executive's office wrote "had we received requests for any different options, we would have worked to accommodate those requests."

Crampton, and several other employees TODAY'S TMJ4 spoke with felt the people in charge offered their choices too late.

"We probably should have been evacuated a little sooner, or they should have said if it's not fixed by Friday, we shouldn't have even been there," said Crampton.

Now the county building will get improvements to its system. The temporary air conditioners along with that work will cost between $100,000 and $150,000, which fits into the facilities' management budget.