Wednesday, May 22, 2013

TDCJ Officers to see around 1% pay raise if all goes well


By Lance Lowry, AFSCME


With the Texas Legislature releasing its finalized budget this last week, correctional officers question why their pay raise was only half that of other statewide law enforcement.  Lance Lowry President of the Huntsville American Federation of State County Municipal Employees, which represents Texas Correctional Officers, stated Monday that the State Legislature is treating correctional officers as the ugly stepchild of the Criminal Justice System.  Texas Correctional Officers will only receive  a 5 % raise over two years, while all other state law enforcement will receive a 10 % raise.  Lowry states with the raise split up over two years and an increase in retirement contributions, correctional officers will only see a little over 1% increase in their actual pay this next September. 
Lowry has attempted to address with the legislature the increasing staffing shortages which plague Texas prisons.  Staffing levels have fell to almost half the required officers at several Texas prison units.  Lowry states the current proposed increases fails to cover inflationary cost of living over the last two years and the legislature is being unrealistic on their attempt to address chronic staffing demands now in the thousands.  With energy production increasing dramatically in South and East Texas, Lowry states most officers can make twice as much in the energy sector and expects staffing to only get worse.
In the late 70's and 80's the Texas Prison System was plagued with chronic under funding, which resulted in the Federal courts taking over the prison system.  Lowry states the legislature and state leadership have signaled again they are incapable of properly running their prison system and states history is repeating itself.
Lowry states while most correctional officers are out of sight and out of mind, they do one of the most important jobs in our criminal justice system.  The job is hot, dirty, extremely dangerous, and is one of the most stressful jobs anyone can incur Lowry states.  Prison officers receive little recognition unlike police who are exposed to the public everyday.  Lowry states there is a clear wall of silence shielding correctional officers from the general public.
In February, 17 former prison guards were indicted by a federal grand jury after a 4 year investigation authorities dubbed Operation Prison Cell.  The guards are alleged to have help inmates commit crimes from behind bars at TDCJ's McConnell prison in Beeville, including bringing in drugs and cell phones to coordinate crimes outside the walls.  Lowry states while the majority of correctional officers are honest, the poor pay, lack of experience, and work conditions make prison officers more susceptible to corruption.  Lowry states current politicians making the decision were short sided by not treating correctional officers with professional respect.  Lack of loyalty and commitment creates an atmosphere for corruption.  Lowry states it's not hard to look south of the border and see what a low wage criminal justice system gets you.
Lowry states every time he visits the Texas Capitol he is haunted by the words of AFSCME's former Beeville Union President Daniel Nagle, who stated in 1999 while on the Texas Capitol steps, "Someone will have to be killed before they do anything about the shortage of staff in Texas prisons."  Two weeks later Officer Daniel Nagle was killed at the McConnel Prison Unit in Beeville by Inmate Robert Pruett who now awaits execution for the murder. 

29 comments:

  1. THEY HAVE TRULY SHOWED US HOW MUCH THEY DON`T CARE ABOUT US OR THE PUBLIC WITH THE RAISE THAT THEY HAVE GIVEN US.KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN AS CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS START LOOKING ELSE WHERE AND LEAVE THE STATE SHORT HANDED TRYING TO KEEP THE BAD GUYS LOCKED UP ......

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  2. This is ridiculous. A 5% raise over 2 years. Really? Well....all I have to say is the big wigs in the state capital might find themselves having to wear this gray uniform when staffing is so low they'll have to close more prisons. Thank God I can retire next year. I feel that the safety of all correctional officers holds no merit to the all mighty dollar. Shame on our state representatives who didn't stand up for us. Shame on them.

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  3. From the Desk of BoBoTheBeaten:

    First we're suppose to feel grateful that we even have a job and then very grateful that we're so valued that we got a .01% raise. I bet when Senator Twitmire finds out about this he'll get to the bottom of it.

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  4. Actually Whitmire was the ONLY one who stood up for the raise, the other nine legislators did nothing. Even the ones who represent Huntsville and other prison communities did nothing. I don't even see how John Otto who represents Huntsville will get elected again, but he will since CO's aren't involved politically. TDCJ employees could sent some of these guys packing. The people in our own backyard are the ones who screwed us.

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  5. Truly sad is all I have to say about this. But, its like we've heard a hundred times before "over paid babysitters" lol..thats what the majority of people think about a Texas Correctional Officer. It's hard to believe they would be that callous. Giving correctional officers a 1% raise is like leaving a penny as a tip, or to be more precise, a penny on the nightstand after our politicians leave us lyin on the bed.

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  6. This should b considered very sad 4 all co's within tdcj,but sum r content w/ getting crumbs like this every 2yrs or nothing @ all,they'll say @ least they gave us a raise which amounts 2 little or nothing.I c why our elected officials do this 2 us every 2 yrs,it's because we don't vote & the handful that do vote 4 the WRONG politician n e way.I went 2 Austin back n March 4 the payraise rally & statewide 20-30 co's attended while thousands of teachers were there 4 their representing 4 their cause while all we do is complain amongst ourselves.

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  7. Most COs are paid twice what they are worth. Some COs aren't paid half what they are worth. It might be time to ditch the one size fits all salary schedule. The agency forced me to attend the stupid "Keeping the Good Ones" training. How about "Paying the Good Ones"? God knows TDCJ has some huge employee relations problems, and paying the trash the same amount as the bosses who work hard might be the biggest of them.

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  8. We don't need no sick out!!!! We need a GET OUT!!!! Get Out the Vote in all prison communities who control who their State Representative is. Have ALL family and friends vote against the jokers who failed to support us no matter who is running against them. I guarantee if East Texas and some areas in North Texas vote a Democrat in, the Texas Republican Party that has been screwing CO's for years would notice and we would see a 30-40% raise next session. Unfortunately most CO's are scared to cross the line and vote for a Democrat because they love living on the poverty line the Republicans in this state have place on CO's since 1996. The Republicans failed to even give CO's a pro-gun legislation this session. An amendment by Rep Lon Berman, the most liberal Democrat in the Texas House gave CO's a reduced CHL this session.

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  9. I 4 1 leave soon, sooner the better You knew or should have the pay and benefits when you signed up. Thankless job, worse pay and increasing accountability everyday. Good Luck with your ESL classes for In-Service TDCJ! Maybe you'll get a Federal Grant that will allow Windham to teach those.

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  10. It was overheard at the capitol sometime back that legislators were not as concerned with TDCJ employees and their issues because they are " Poorly organized and don't vote". I find that to be pretty much the case. Until TDCJ employees can find one combined and dedicated voice that can sway legislators voted into those positions there will be little change. Most of us simply bitch and moan all year and then find a reason not to get out and vote when the time comes, and don't bother writing emails or letters to their selected state reps.. If you want action, take action.

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    1. I think by law the have to relieve us if we want to vote if we're at work so there shouldn't be a reason for us not to vote

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  11. The Governor does not want employees to organize, unlike other states. Oliver Bell, the Chairman of the Board of Criminal Justice is a hired gun for union busting, as his Human Resource firm advises companies on how to keep employees from organizing. Methods commonly employed by companies to keep their employees from organizing are:

    1. Fear
    2. Illegal retaliation.
    3. Disunification of the employees. Keep employees fighting each other. IE Nigerian employees against American Employees.
    4. Keep your employees from believing they can make a change.

    The best way to bust an anti-employee organizing consultant is to expose them. Expose those who challenge employees who challenge the process. IE the Facebook incident that appeared in USA Today involving TDCJ, exposed TDCJ attempting to illegally suppress employees constitutionally protected speech. TDCJ uses fear to keep their employees from communicating outside the workplace. Tweeter and Facebook have taken down world governments. A simple Tweet that calls every CO to flood a State Reps office with calls can expose TDCJ or a Facebook posting at election time might remind the 40,000 that a certain State Rep did not support them.

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  12. From the Desk of BoBoTheBeaten:

    Look at all the good work Chairman Bell could have done if he were allowed to hire is sister-in-law. Our loss............

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  13. Good to see some things never change. The legislature gives us crumbs and everyone in Grey sits around and crys about it. Where were you at when it mattered? I was an activist, writing my politicians every session. Two sessions ago I even went to Austin to see Henejosa and Whitmire personaly. I have 2 more sessions to sweat and I'll retire with my 25 years, my pension, my insurance hopefully, my 401k and can forget about TDCJ.

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  14. I AGREE I DONT BLAME TDCJ !!!!! I BLAME US AS CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS FOR NOT STANDING UP TOGETHER AND BEING SCARED TO BE HEARD......... BECAUSE WITHOUT US THEY CANT RUN THE PRISONS SO WE NEED TO MAKE THEM PAY US........

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  15. If you all hate your jobs so much, why in the world don't you take control of your lives and go get a job you think is befitting your work ethic, values, education, intellectual contribution, etc. If you were half as deserving of the salary you think you are, you would be earning it and not spending your time blaming others while clocking in every day. For heaven's sake, stop the crying an take control of your lives. But if this is the only job you can actually get since the requirements are so extraordinarily low (must be over 18, have a GED and not be a serious criminal), then stop complaining and make the best of it because you are lucky to have a job.

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    1. It's not that we hate our jobs. We want fair treatment and fair compensation. The job we do does "befit" us, and we are more than deserving of the salary we earn. While it is true there are some substandard employees, it must be recognized those kind of people are everywhere in every kind of employment situation. Those who cannot handle their TDCJ job either quit or get fired. Now, the economy is tough for everybody right now. So, yes, for some people this may be the only job they can get, and they are lucky to have it. But, for the rest of us, TDCJ and society is lucky to have us. I am making an assumption now, but methinks you are another hug-a-thug offender sympathizer out there who has not one clue of what it's like to work inside a Texas prison. So, until you've worked there for no less than five years in the extreme weather being chunked on with bodily fluids that could potentially be contaminated with some sort of incurable disease or being physically and verbally assaulted by some criminal who can't even follow simple rules nevermind the law, don't accuse any of us of not deserving a fair salary, crying, complaining, blaming others, or not being in control of our lives. Your attitude is part of the problem, not the solution. Praytell, what kind of skills and qualifications do you have? Whatever they are, I am positive there are plenty of TDCJ officers that meet or exceed them.

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  16. To anon 12:34 AM

    If you hate people communicating and expressing themselves on the Internet, take your OWN ADVICE and stop using the Internet!!!! It is clear you have never worked in gray, if you did, you would know that Correctional Officers come from a diverse background and some are highly educated too. It is clear Anon 12:34 AM that you are the ignorant one by assuming ALL CO's are here because it is the only job that is out there or the highest one they can obtain. Anyone who can pass a DOT physical and get a CDL can make twice as much as a truck driver in the oilfield right now. You don't even have to have a GED for that.

    The fact is people should glad there are skilled CO's out there that have the social skills and knowledge on how to deal with people from different neighborhoods and cultures. Without these people working, TDCJ would have riots and prison breakouts everyday.

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  17. you are so RIGHT about that !!!!!!!

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  18. 1percent that's like a slap in the face for us CO'S

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  19. Want to know why you didn't get a raise? Look around the room in turnout tomorrow. The average CO can't tell you who his state representative is. If he can, chances are he has never contacted that representative. Many are not even registered to vote. I oppose a raise for CO's, under the current system. On your average shift, mine included, about 5 or 10 percent of the officers do 90 percent of the work. Yes, that small handful deserves a raise. However, under the current system, everyone gets a raise. Personally, I would rather do without than see just one food stamping, baby mama, trashcan sitter or a do nothing slacker that calls in every Friday, get one red cent. Keep the raise.

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  20. You know, the legislature has historically given very low pay raises to correctional staff, and then it's usually eaten up by health care cost increases. This time the raise will be eaten up with increased retirement contributions. This is nothing new for them to do. We should not be surprised.

    I agree with the folks who said correctional officers don't vote. I gotta tell you voting is NOT enough. You MUST make your voice heard, both written and on the phone or in person. You MUST speak up to your legislators. Let them know where you stand, and what you want. Do NOT just whine and complain here or some other internet board. Write the people who matter, your legislators. They MUST hear from YOU.

    If you don't think your voice matters, look at what's been accomplished recently by gun owners. In the face of extreme attacks on the 2nd amendment by the Obamma administration, the gun control proposals so far have been voted down. So far the liberals have failed. WHY?? Because gun owners nation wide have made their voices heard. We must do the same if we want the legislators to pay attention to us.

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  21. These morons are guna be the first one crying when we get so short staff at all prisons and someone escapes and rapes and murders their family. I hate to be the one that don't care, but I might just laugh if would happen. Remembering Nagel "it might take someone dying to make a difference. I believe in karma, I really hope its true. We work hard keeping (killers, rapeist, child molesters, drug dealers, aggravated robbers, and who knows what behind bars and the public safe.) I'm glad and proud of what we do to keep the public safe. Too bad they would only think of us if they all got out. Still praying for something.

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  22. To Anonymous June 10, 2013 at 10:09: Please define "guna" for those of us that didn't take the GED route.

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  23. With staffing as low as it is in TDCJ, who is going to man the post when people are dropping like flies. Maybe the one's who got the big money can run the whole place by themselves. After all the offenders housed in these prisons are very cooperative, and will give them no problems what so ever. (lol). To the people who think that correctional officers don't earn the little pay they get, and don't deserve higher pay. Then remember that we are the one's that keep all the criminals locked up away from you after the police catches them and the judge sentences them. We do that with the least amount of force necessary, with no guns (no firearms are allowed inside the prison), and being out numbered when fully staffed around 30 offenders to 1 officer. The odds of something bad happening to you, a correctional officer, are a lot greater on the inside than the odds of something happening to an armed police officer on the street. The only difference is that we know that the people around you are convicted felons, and the police offer only suspects that one has broken the law unless caught red handed. Yet the TDCJ staff is the lowest paid and bounces back and fourth with California in housing the most law breakers. So I wonder how many will continue to work for such a cheap outfit.

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  24. I have been with TDCJ for 10 years and have lived paycheck to paycheck the whole time. Every time we get a "raise" our ins. rates go up. Is that a coincidence? Now they took BCBS from us and gave us this crap that has less coverage with the same price. It is hard to take care of a family of five when you bring home $1850/mo.(thanks to the $1150/mo. deductions). On top of it I live 50mi. from the unit. A 100mi. round trip 4on/4off. But that my fault I know, but I have a mortgage tying me down. The good news is(thanks to ERS), I got 5yrs. service purchase for my time in the military, and I am getting 3yrs. service purchase for my ten yrs. of service. So two more years and I can leave this place and work on another retirement somewhere thats better.

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