WAYMART, Pa. – American Federation of Government Employees Local 3003 President David J. Demas today issued the following statement:
“On the afternoon of Jan. 3, I was informed that the Northeast Regional Office of the Bureau of Prisons in Philadelphia was taking away USP Canaan’s 10% retention incentive bonus. This bonus was for retaining staff members, meaning keeping them from leaving for another institution or a different federal or state agency altogether. This bonus was a nice way to compensate employees for their work at one of the most dangerous penitentiaries in the country and the only one located in the Northeast region.
“Employees at USP Canaan are not only dealing with daily violence but a recent mission change. We are no longer housing holdover inmates and bussing them to other institutions in the Northeast Region. We are now a stand-alone penitentiary, which means the entire institution houses general population inmates. In approximately one week, USP Canaan will be opening two additional housing units, adding over 200 more inmates designated to our institution.
“This 10% retention not only helps the bargaining unit employees, but also provides retention to every level of staff all the way up to the associate wardens. The Northeast Region’s only justification for terminating the retention incentive was that USP Canaan’s pay locality area was just changed from rest of the United States to the NY-NJ-CT-PA locality pay area, applicable to only GS/GL employees. So yes, we are getting a raise, but the justification is not warranted. Retention incentive bonuses and locality pay areas are two very separate entities and do not correlate with one another.
“The Northeast Regional Director’s justification for ending the retention pay is not only wrong, but it’s taking money away from hard-working wage grade employees including cooks, plumbers, electricians, HVAC, laundry, and commissary workers who are not entitled to the higher locality pay because they are under a completely different pay scale. So, the Northeast Region of the Bureau of Prisons is essentially punishing us for fighting and getting into the New York locality pay area by taking money away from employees instead of attempting to help retain hard-working, essential staff at USP Canaan.”