When we fight, we win!

DOC interest arbitration marked by powerful member testimony

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Over the last few days, our interest arbitration hearing has been marked by powerful testimony from members and some frustrating moments from DOC management.

Last Thursday, correctional officer James Deuel of WCC testified about scaled-back staffing levels on graveyard shift and how it impacts safety. He also addressed the cumulative stress of the job:

“I'm a human being.  I don't think that anybody should have to see some of the things that I've seen.  I mean, when it comes to offenders assaulting other offenders, possibly killing them, which has happened, hurting themselves, hurting each other…”

Officer Deuel also spoke about threats to his own safety and to his family, and of encountering offenders after they’ve been released into the community:

“If I'm by myself, it's just like being at work.  If I'm with my kids it's very -- it's nerve-wracking, something you don't want to see.”

Adam Kapa, a transportation sergeant at WCC, testified about the dangers of operating a chain bus:

“We don’t know what we're getting.  We haven't had time to classify them.  We haven't had time to get to know them, they're just delivered to us by the counties….we don't know what else their temperament is like, what they're going to do.”

Like Deuel, Sergeant Kapa spoke of threats directed at him and his family:

“I've received threats of physical harm or death to myself, to my family, rape of my wife and daughter, and myself.  I've – several threats – pretty much as heinous as you can think.”

Through member testimony, like that of Officer Deuel and Sergeant Kapa, our union’s legal team is establishing the risks and high-level stress associated with the job as we continue to make our case for higher compensation than the State proposed in contract negotiations.

Last week, we also heard from DOC Secretary Stephen Sinclair. Sinclair’s testimony irked members in the room, especially when he stated that he hadn’t given a lot of thought about whether members of the bargaining unit are satisfied with their compensation.  He also testified that he hadn’t heard much from members who are dissatisfied with their compensation. These remarks seemed tone deaf and completely out of touch with the rank-and-file.

This week, we've had an expert witness present comparable data in states of like sizes and jurisdictions as well as data involving compensation for corrections employees at the county level.

We anticipate wrapping up the hearing this Friday, at which point we will give you another update. Please check your email and look for more information coming soon.

View a short video update from the hearing below:

 


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