Local 117 Business Representative Eric Smith leads a Steering Committee meeting in Monroe
With Department of Corrections bargaining just around the corner, a number of Union members employed at MCC have been meeting at a local hotel to brainstorm issues currently facing corrections staff. At these ‘Steering Committees’ meetings, members discuss workplace issues and ways to addressed them through the bargaining process. Members then take these issues back into the facility for feedback.
“The goal of the steering committee is to bring out more member involvement, not only on upcoming contract negotiations, but to gain knowledge and ideas on dealing with local issues concerning our membership. We are also going over items that need to be brought out legislatively as well,” said Business Representative Eric Smith, who has been leading the meetings.
“Turnout for our steering committee has been good so far. With the newness of it and word of mouth, the numbers are growing each time,” Smith said.
At one meeting, issues ranging from security cameras to recruitment and retention pay were discussed in depth. Each issue was then categorized as an issue specific to MCC or a statewide concern. Safety and staffing issues have been at the center of most meetings.
“It is important to have your voice heard. If you aren’t participating in the bargaining process you have no right to complain,” said Lynn Kunkle, a registered nurse and Shop Steward at MCC.
Kunkle believes these meeting are important because they organize specific issues into those that can be handled locally and those that can be addressed in the contract.
“I’ve been with the Department for twelve years and I came here on my day off to provide any input that I can,” Kunkle said.