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Prison guard considers lawsuit over pay dispute

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)   A state prison guard from central Wisconsin says he's thinking about filing a lawsuit in a pay dispute. The head of the state Equal Rights agency has reversed an earlier ruling, and said Red-granite prison officer Paul Mertz should not be paid for the time he checks in at a daily roll call and walks to his guard station before work. State officials cut off that pay in 2012 -- and equal rights' officer Jeffrey Glick ruled in July that his bosses acted wrongly. Last month Equal Rights Bureau manager Jim Chiolino reversed the ruling, and put the wage cut-off back in place.

After the original decision, officers at 10 other state prisons filed suit seeking back pay for what they lost -- and they're trying to make it a class action suit that demands millions in back pay they lost over two years for the reporting time.

Mertz lost 35 minutes a week due to the prison policy change, which was allowed under the Act-10 law which ended collective bargaining for most state-and-local public employee unions. The attorney for the other officers, Timothy Scheffler, said the ruling against Mertz should not affect the outcome of the larger suit -- which could end up benefiting t3,000 correctional officers. The state has not commented.