July 26, 2021
The AFGE National VA Council (NVAC) and the VA have reached a historic settlement to restore workplace rights.
After years of hard work and advocacy from the Council of Prison Locals, the Bureau of Prisons announced that they will provide gun lockers for the first time to correctional workers, so that prison employees can defend themselves on their commute to and from work.
“Since 2013, the Council of Prisons Locals and the American Federation of Government Employees have worked tirelessly to increase the safety of our Correctional Officers at federal prisons throughout the country,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. “And now, thanks to our activists' hard-won fight, our officers and their families can breathe a little easier,” he added.
AFGE Council of Prison Locals President Eric Young hailed the decision by the agency to allow officers to store personal weapons in a secure facility at work.
“Today is another good day for all working people at the Bureau of Prisons," he said. "This is a great first step in ensuring that husbands, wives, children, and grandchildren not be left behind because one of our officers could not protect themselves commuting to and from their place of work.”
In addition to the BOP's decision to provide secure gun lockers, the House of Representatives passed the Thin Blue Line Act of 2017, a bill that makes the murder of a correctional officer or other first responder an aggravating factor in sentencing.
"Too often, inmates already serving life sentences attack correctional officers knowing they cannot receive a harsher sentence," Young said. "This unfortunately happened with correctional officers Jose Rivera and Eric Williams. The passage of the Thin Blue Line Act gives correctional officers a sense of security, knowing that there is now a powerful deterrent to targeting them on the job."
Young says that the Council of Prison Locals will continue its work to make prisons safer, and make the gun locker policy change permanent with the passage of the Osvaldo Albarati Correctional Officer Protection Act.
Congress introduced the Lieutenant Osvaldo Albarati Correctional Officer Self-Protection Act – H.R. 613 – on January 23, 2017, and has 32 bipartisan cosponsors. The bill is named for Lieutenant Osvaldo Albarati, a correctional officer at MDC Guaynabo who was murdered in connection for his work inside the prison.
"All of the men and women who keep peace in our communities by safeguarding our nation’s prisons deserve the right to feel safe as they travel to and from work," Young said. "We won’t stop pushing for that right until the Osvaldo Albarati Correctional Officer Self-Protection Act is signed into law."
AFGE applauds the House Oversight and Reform Committee for passing a pro-family bill.
Organizing during a pandemic brings about new tools, tactics, and ideas.