Brothers and Sisters:
With the holidays on the way, I am reminded again of the incredible sacrifice our corrections’ family makes to keep all of us safe.
Beyond the day-to-day risks you take just by reporting to work, many of you will miss celebrations with your loved ones this year because you are required to be on duty.
Unlike the vast majority of workplaces, the prisons never close.
This sacrifice extends throughout the year, when many of you will have to miss, not only Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but other family events - an anniversary, your daughter’s birthday, or your son’s football game.
As a member of a military family, with both my son and husband on active duty, and twenty years of service in public safety, I know how difficult this sacrifice can be. As a society, we do not do nearly enough to honor the brave men and women who devote their lives to protecting the public. This is particularly true with corrections. The public simply does not want to know what goes on behind prison walls.
It is especially frustrating when the Department itself does not honor your sacrifice. At 3% over two years, the State’s final economic position in bargaining was a disgrace. Even the arbitrator’s recent interest arbitration award, though considerably more, does not come close to recognizing the inherent dangers of your work, the risks and challenges you face every day, and the toll corrections work takes on you and your family.
That is why we must continue to educate the public, especially our elected officials, about what it is like to work inside a prison. While the arbitrator’s award may not be everything we had hoped for, it is an important starting point in a conversation with our representatives in Olympia. Collectively, we need to speak out to ensure that our legislators not only fund our award, but come to understand that the men and women in corrections deserve far more for their sacrifice than the State could ever know.
Thank you for your service and stay safe.
Director of Corrections & Law Enforcement