The second day of our interest arbitration hearing was inspiring and emotional. 

The arbitrator heard powerful testimony yesterday from four members of Teamsters Local 117 in different classifications: James Deuel (Sergeant from WCC), Alena McGowen-Folsom (AC Cook, MCCCW), Sheryl Green (RN2, AHCC), and Becky HaneyNixon (CC3, WSP).

Our members testified about the devastating impact of the pandemic, the excessive overtime they've been required to work, and the public health risks to themselves and their families. They also talked about how compensation for many classifications at the DOC lags behind people who perform comparable work in similar jurisdictions. 

You can view a short video overview of the testimony of Deuel and Folsom below:

The union also called on expert witness Dr. Suzanne Best, a clinical psychologist who has studied the emotional, physical, and psychological toll of prison work. Dr. Best noted that corrections workers suffer from an extremely high rate of PTSD and that this stress has been exacerbated during the pandemic. 

Thank you to the members who testified yesterday and powerfully represented their co-workers at the DOC. Here are a couple of direct quotes from their testimony before the arbitrator:

"Even the State brought info to the table that shows we’re behind. If they know it, why aren’t they doing something about it? It’s insulting!" - Alena McGowen-Folsom, MCCCW

I spent months sleeping on a cot at the prison. I didn’t want to go home and give COVID to my wife or children. I worked 16-hour days every day, except one day a month I would only work 8 hours so I could go home and do laundry. There was a room full of cots with inmate pillows and blankets where staff could sleep if they were too tired to drive home or too scared to go home for fear of infecting their family.” - James Deuel, WCC