As ACU members who work in prisons and jails across the country keeping the public safe – you watch our backs. This week, National Correctional Officers’ and Employees’ Week, we want to let you know how proud we are to call you our sisters and brothers. We honor you for the work you do.
We stand with you as some politicians cut staffing, threaten your wages and benefits, refuse to provide needed safety equipment and privatize prisons to benefit corporate backers who put them in office in the first place.
Nationwide, private prisons undermine public safety, pose a threat to the lives of inmates, and are bad for the economy and community safety. Private facilities put profits before safe streets by hiring at rates barely above minimum wage, skimping on employee training, and eliminating staff positions and equipment critical to preventing escapes and violence in the facilities.
Across this country, AFSCME is fighting to keep public safety where it belongs – in the hands of professional and highly trained, dedicated public corrections officers. In Texas we’re driving efforts to shut down the Dawson State Jail, where several preventable deaths have taken place. In Ohio, we’re calling for the shutdown of the Lake Erie Correctional Institution, where conditions have rapidly deteriorated since it was sold to a private company in 2011. And we’re calling attention to the failings of for-profit prisons across the country.
We will always honor the sacrifices you make on behalf of your communities by standing with you in the struggle to keep them safe.
During this week’s commemoration, we also pay homage to unsung heroes who continue to take risks and make ultimate sacrifices in the line of duty. One of our own, Sgt. Barbara Ester of Marianna, Ark., was simply doing her job when she was fatally stabbed to death early this year. Other members, like Michael Whitehead of Somers, Conn., saved a fellow officer’s life on the job.
“We will never forget the life-and-death struggles that define the vital service you provide,” Sec.-Treas. Lee Saunders said at last year’s Public Safety Congress. “Because we will never forget, we will continue the fight for the public safety officers on the job today.” Adds Pres. Gerald W. McEntee: “The courage and commitment shown by our members reflect what is best about our country.
We are 62,000 corrections officers and 23,000 corrections employees who have joined forces in AFSCME to fight for better pay and benefits, for safe workplaces and to uphold the standard of professionalism in our field.
“Prison industry puts profits before public safety”
Statement of AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee on Prison Privatization:
“Yesterday, The New York Times offered further evidence of what we have known for years: For-profit prisons often cost taxpayers more than the funding needed to run state prisons, even though the corporate prisons can cherry-pick the least costly inmates. Prison privatization is bad public policy because the prison industry puts profits before public safety. Prison privatization means high rates of violence, high staff turnover, lax security, and routine mismanagement. Too many politicians – including John Kasich in Ohio – are selling state prisons off – often in return for the corporate dollars that fund their campaigns. Kasich claims that privatization ‘provides better services at a lower price,’ yet the evidence clearly points in the other direction.
“Sweetheart deals are not a solution to the budget problems facing states. Instead, they create costs of their own. AFSCME documented the flow of money from the corporate prison industry to politicians who support prison privatization in our recent report, ‘Making A Killing: How Prison Corporations Are Profiting from Campaign Contributions and Putting Taxpayers at Risk.’ It is time to end this failed social experiment and provide public correction departments with the resources they need to run secure state prisons. Transferring millions of tax dollars to private companies is a waste of money and a proven mistake. Prison privatization doesn’t work. Taxpayers should not have to pay extra to line the pockets of the corporate CEOs who pay politicians to run them.”
It has been a year since an election was held to determine if the employees in your bargaining unit would be represented by a union.
Since that time, AFSCME Local 1004 negotiated an agreement for the employees in the Trades Unit. AFSCME met with officials from the Mayor’s Office, Human Resources and various divisions within Trades. Our discussions occurred over a period of approximately two months. Despite negotiations starting late, we secured a number of items that the employees were satisfied with. They are:
* An increase in acting pay (county wide)
* An increase in days off for bereavement leave (county wide)
* An increase in military leave (county wide)
* An increase in standby and callback pay (county wide)
* A reduction in response time for grievances (county wide)
* Shift change notice of 5 days and callback pay for each day less
than the 5 day requirement (trades unit only)
* Snowfighter pay (trades unit only)
* Overtime rotation and reports to AFSCME (trades unit only)
* Full time employees to receive premium shifts (trades unit only)
In less than a year, AFSCME Local 1004 improved the working conditions of its members – we intend to go back to the table this summer and expand on the gains we have made.
We want you to be a part of this process. During these tough times it is more important than ever to be represented by an organization that has YOUR interests at heart. We have accomplished more than any other organization in the County in a very short period of time. Just think what we can accomplish together!
Authorization cards for representation are circulating now. Remember, these are simply cards asking for an election and they are time sensitive. We nearly prevailed last year – let’s get it right this year! You also have my promise that there will not be any house visits. The message from you was loud and clear.
If you have any questions, would like additional information or would like a card sent to you, please respond or contact me directly at 801-694-0192 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm voting for AFSCME because when we speak up on the job, often we're not heard. With Utah AFSCME Local 1004, we'll have a strong, powerful voice.
Sherrie Peek, Jail Clerk
I want to make sure my retirement and benefits are protected. AFSCME has won victories for workers like us across the country. I'm voting for AFSCME because I want a strong, experienced union standing with us.
Colby Harris, Jail Nurse
The 2.75% paycut really hurt my family. We need a strong union with experience negotiating good contracts to protect our pay and benefits from future cuts. That's why I'm voting for AFSCME Local 1004.
Jason Power, Corrections Officer
There's only one choice for me. It's about the big picture, and AFSCME has the big picture. If we stick together and unite with AFSCME, we're going to have the power to change things for the better.
The results are in! Click the link to download the PDF (and share with your coworkers).
In December 2009 and January 2010, Utah AFSCME Local 1004 surveyed Correction and Protective Services employees and asked about job satisfaction and workplace challenges.
Recently, Minnesota COs won a major victory against privatization forces. Unlike state- or locally-run facilities, private facilities don't have the same protections or transparencies that public corrections facilities do.
By organizing together, the COs were able to protect their jobs and high professional standards are maintained in our industry.
In a major victory in AFSCME's fight against privatization, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) - the nation's largest owner and operator of private prisons - will shut down its Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, MN on Feb. 1.
"This shutdown is a huge victory for us," says Eliot Seide, Council 5 executive director and an AFSCME International vice president. "We're pushing government to take responsibility for corrections, not pass the buck to private corporations that profit from prisons."
Adds Tim Henderson, a corrections officer and president of Local 2728, "We have been lobbying for a bill that will prevent our state from renting out its responsibilities. Our efforts are paying off. A growing number of legislators are now convinced that privateers shouldnt profit from prisons."
The Appleton facility housed fewer than 250 inmates last year, in part because Minnesota is placing more offenders in state-run facilities. Prisoners from the privately-owned 1,600-bed jail will be transferred to a public detention complex in Faribault.
Henderson, chairman of Council 5's Corrections Policy Committee, adds that the next step is to help elect a labor-friendly governor this year.
In 2009, AFSCME members successfully blocked an attempt to shut down the state's Moose Lake prison and transfer its inmates to Appleton. "We've been at war with the privateers and we won't stop until Minnesota places all of its inmates in state-run corrections facilities," Henderson asserts. "That is our mission."
In 2008, CCA siphoned off $1.46 billion from taxpayers across the nation on its way to earning record profits of $151 million. CCA holds 75,000 inmates at more than 65 facilities it owns or operates in 19 states.
Public employees rally at state Capitol By Abigail Shaha Deseret News Published: Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010 12:22 p.m. MST
SALT LAKE CITY At 2 and 1, Garrett and MaryAnn Keller were the youngest people at Wednesday's public workers rally at the state Capitol.
But their father, Chris Keller, said the children were the people legislators need to remember the most.
"It's not just my future; it's theirs at stake," said Keller, an employee at the Salt Lake County Metro Jail. "Eroding safety is eroding the future."
Keller was among two dozen public employees who attended the rally sponsored by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. Workers representing several sectors of public employees, from librarians to police officers, rallied in opposition of legislation that would cut employee benefits and retirement.
Two bills in particular, SB42 and SB94, would raise retirement eligibility by as much as five years and eliminate employer 401(k) contributions.
House Minority Leader David Litvack, D-Salt Lake, told the crowd he was hesitant to make any big decisions on the issues, especially retirement, this legislative session.
"I am convinced we don't need to rush into anything this session," Litvack said. "Let's not predetermine today what it's going to look like in 10 years."
Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley, told the crowd she empathized with them, having recently retired from Granite School District, but she encouraged them not to be single-issue voters.
"This is a battle," Mayne said. "It's not just today. I want to see you up here every year."
During the rally, Litvack, Mayne and Rep. Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake, signed an agreement to protect public services for state, county and municipal employees. All speakers encouraged public employees to write to their legislators, attend rallies and make their voices heard.
Seelig said those letters and visits will show legislators what the people really want.
Correctional Officers in Puerto Rico Win $35 Million Settlement
BY PABLO ROS | APRIL 17, 2013
After years of struggle, ACU members achieved a big victory recently when Puerto Rico agreed to restore to them more than $35 million in unpaid overtime wages.
Page Last Updated: May 16, 2013 (10:59:00)
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees