Monday, December 10, 2012
Oil Field jobs still booming, TDCJ units near Huntsville now at risk for losing staff to better paying jobs
5,000 new permits were issued for drilling in the Eagle Ford Shale. The drilling area has expanded closer to East Texas prison towns by expanding to Grimes, Madison, and Leon Counties. All these counties border highly populated prison counties (Walker Co and Anderson Co). Oil field companies are already setting up shop in Navasota home of the Pack and Luther Units.
The labor force in these areas is already exhausted and TDCJ is already dangerously understaffed with over 740 officer short in the Huntsville Region. Oil fracking has already overwhelmed TDCJ's labor force in Beeville, Kennedy, and now in West Texas, where the Smith unit is only 52 percent staffed. Rumors are spreading that the Smith unit is shutting down cell blocks and shipping inmates.
TDCJ and Texas politicians continue to ignore the states economy as the Eagle Ford drilling inches towards areas next to Huntsville (Walker Co) and Palestine (Anderson Co), two of the most prison populated areas of Texas. The Huntsville Region is experiencing a correctional officer shortage of over 740 officers at a time of year when officer recruiting is usually up.
TDCJ leadership is playing with fire downplaying the staffing shortages and should be screaming for help from the state politicians. With the massive prison expansion in the 90's, many experienced officers with be facing retirement soon.
Texas will have a surplus of over $9,000,000,000 this next session and can easily permit correctional officers a reasonable and competitive pay increase. With competitive pay, this may keep more experience from leaving due to retirement and the expanding energy sector.
Montgomery County south of Huntsville is also experiencing a large expansion in their energy industry with Exxon Mobil relocating there world headquarters on a new 300 + acre campus. Several other companies are also relocating to the area. TDCJ can expect further employee fallout unless competitive pay is implemented.
AFSCME Local 3808
Texas Correctional Employees