Thanks to the relentless advocacy of AFGE Local 4070, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) on July 30 approved a 10% retention pay incentive for all eligible staff at US Penitentiary Thomson in northern Illinois.
AFGE Local 4070 has been sounding the alarm on a staffing shortage and fighting to secure additional pay for officers and staff at USP Thomson. It recently helped promote a recruitment drive to attract qualified job applicants.
USP Thomson, a high-security facility roughly an hour north of the Quad Cities, is currently short 110 correctional officers due to low pay and a shortage of affordable housing. The fewer than 500 employees on staff there are taking on more than 2,000 overtime shifts each month to compensate for the shortages.
In addition to approving the 10% increase, which is the maximum BOP can offer, the agency has submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management a request for approval to pay 25% retention pay to all officers and staff.
At the urging of the local, Rep. Cheri Bustos, whose congressional district includes the prison, joined Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin of Illinois in sending a joint letter April 16 to Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal and OPM Acting Director Kathleen McGettigan asking for Thomson employees to receive the retention bonuses and also be moved into the higher paying Chicago pay locality.
“This is a big first step. AFGE Local 4070 members have been fighting for 25% recruitment pay for 18 months, and we extend our thanks to Senators Durbin and Duckworth and Representative Bustos for leading this fight and supporting the workers at USP Thomson,” Local President Jon Zumkehr said.