350 Correctional Employees, represented by Teamsters Local 117, picketed the Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC) in Monroe on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 to protest cuts at the Washington State Department of Corrections. These cuts include the elimination of numerous positions and programs that help maintain safety levels within the institutions as well as the full closure of the Larch Corrections Center effective 2/1/2011.
“These reductions, along with the State’s proposals in bargaining, are simply unacceptable,” said Teamsters Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer, Tracey A. Thompson. “Our members work side-by-side with some of society’s most dangerous criminals. We will not stand idly by and allow the State to dismantle protections that help keep them safe.”
Correctional employees say that monthly lockdowns combined with cuts to chemical dependency, recreational, and educational programming for offenders will create an explosive environment in our State’s prisons that will lead to more assaults on staff and threaten public safety in our communities.
“The State is making it next to impossible for us to help offenders re-enter society so that they can lead healthy, productive lives,” said Sergeant Brad Waddell of the Monroe Correctional Complex. “The last thing we need is for more offenders to return to our communities to commit violent crimes.”
The State is also eliminating custody staff positions in the prison kitchens, which Correctional Employees say will put dangerous offenders within close proximity of knives and other industrial kitchen equipment with little supervision.
Teamster Correctional Employees have organized a series of community meetings with Washington State legislators to discuss the reductions. Community forum events have been held recently in Monroe and Walla Walla. Similar forums will be held on Wednesday, November 17 in Clark County, and on Thursday, December 2 in Tacoma.
“We have planned a number of activities to demand dignity and respect for correctional workers,” said Thompson. “These include a ‘Day of Action’ at the Capitol in Olympia on December 9, political roundtables with legislators, and targeted media spots. We will be mobilizing our 6,000 plus members at DOC to fight these cuts and to demand respect.”
To read a PDF of this news release, click here.
To view photos of today's action, click here.
To see videos on this action, click here.