AFGE Local 501 on Aug. 23 held a rally to shine a spotlight on the COVID situation, severe understaffing, and a rise in inmate assaults on officers at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in downtown Miami.
Understaffing is a big issue at the Miami facility. A normal prison would have 2 officers per 130 inmates in a housing unit. FDC Miami has 1 officer per 125 inmates. This is also a facility that has housed terrorists, mobsters, and gang members. Since October 2019, there have been 27 assaults on staff by inmates, and nothing has been done about it.
Local President Eric Spiers said even though the facility has the word “administrative” in its name, it has all security levels and is a higher security facility than a penitentiary. The well-known supermax facility in Colorado is an administrative facility too. He’s calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to do something about this dangerous working condition.
“OSHA should say BOP needs to upgrade staffing levels to get more people,” he added.
On the pandemic front, the facility is not doing a good job contact tracing and isolating people who have been in contact with those tested positive for COVID.
Last month they had 40 inmates on the isolation floor. Now they have 14, but they’re not testing inmates who have been in contact with these people if they are not symptomatic.
The rally attracted media attention, including The Miami Herald and CBS News Channel 4. SSA Local 2014 President Shaunellia Ferguson also attended in support.
Spiers said management retaliated against him for holding the rally. They rejected his annual leave request that day and instead marked him Absent Without Leave (AWOL). He plans to file an unfair labor practice complaint against them.