Sergeant Frank Longoria at the Cedar Creek Corrections Center near Olympia.

“I’ve been Union my whole life,” said Sgt. Frank Longoria of the Cedar Creek Corrections Center near Olympia. “For me, it’s always been about people’s rights.”

The son of migrant farmworkers, Longoria grew up in the fields in eastern Washington.  In his 20s, he marched with Cesar Chavez and supported the United Farmworkers’ boycott of Gallo wine. He worked in a variety of industries, from agriculture to construction. When his brother urged him to get a job with health coverage and retirement, he applied at the DOC.

24 years later, Longoria is the Shift Commander at Cedar Creek, where he oversees a dozen staff at a time and 480 inmates. On weekends and holidays, he’s the highest ranking officer on staff. “Any emergency response, I have dual duties,” he says. “I run the facility and I have to address the incident.”

In addition to incident command, Longoria is responsible for notifying law enforcement in the event of an emergency, operating the offender management database (OMNI), and running the roster. These are all typically duties that records staff or the shift lieutenant would perform.

Longoria says that being overworked and understaffed affects safety. “We get guys straight out of IMU from WSP. We’re operating under a staffing model from the 1980s and that’s creating an environment that is unsafe. We don’t need more mangers, we need more boots on the ground.”