Teamster correctional workers say that a National Institute of Corrections (NIC) report raises serious questions about the Department of Corrections’ (DOC) commitment to staff safety and that they are skeptical of the State’s assurance that it will implement the report’s recommendations after the NIC’s week-long investigation into policies and procedures at the Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC).
“The NIC report makes good recommendations, but it remains to be seen if they will be implemented,” said Lynn Kunkle, a registered nurse at the Monroe Correctional Complex. “We have been urging the State for years to make these changes, but our input has fallen on deaf ears. It’s disturbing that it takes the murder of one of our co-workers before the State promises to take action.”
At the same time that the Governor was holding her press conference in Monroe to announce the NIC report’s recommendations, several dozen correctional employees were appearing before the Senate Labor and Commerce & Consumer Protection committee in support of legislation that would enhance their safety through an interest arbitration process. That legislation – EHB 2011 – would give DOC employees the ability to engage a neutral third party if they cannot come to agreement with the State over working conditions that adequately ensure staff safety.
“The NIC report shows that staff safety and security has been compromised at MCC, but there is no mention of other prisons in the report. There are 11 other prisons across the State where staff safety and security is being compromised. We need a meaningful process to address all safety and security issues in the future. EHB 2011 gives us that process,” said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117.
Given the budget deficit, correctional workers remain skeptical that the legislature will place their safety above budgetary issues.
“I've worked at my institution for ten years. We have panic buttons that have never been activated and staff without radios interacting directly with inmates. We've paid a big enough price for the lack of attention to safety at DOC. We need interest arbitration rights so that our voices can be heard," said Sergeant Mark Francis of the Larch Corrections Center.
To read a PDF of this release, click here.