WASHINGTON – Today, labor leaders are joining the American Federation of Government Employees – the largest union representing Federal Bureau of Prisons correctional officers – in calling on BOP Director Collete Peters to retain the retention pay incentive at Thomson Federal Prison.
Members of AFGE Local 4070, which represents 450 correctional officers at Thomson, say proposed pay cuts would endanger prison workers, inmates and the communities surrounding the prison.
For years, Thomson prison has faced severe staffing shortages, risking the safety of the correctional officers, inmates and other BOP staff. In early 2022, with the support of Representatives Cheri Bustos, Dave Loebsack and Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, AFGE Local 4070 was able to work with management to achieve a 25% increase in retention pay, however, Director Peters wants to remove that pay incentive.
“Our members at Thomson prison protect their communities and our nation every day while dealing with some of the most dangerous criminals in the country,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said. “They perform difficult, necessary work, which is one reason why recruiting is so difficult for these positions at Thomson prison. The Bureau of Prisons’ attempt to cut retention pay will only end up leading to more difficulties in hiring, a loss of existing staff, and will gravely insult the staff members who currently put their safety and health on the line to serve their country.”
“In light of the concerning proposed pay cuts at United States Penitentiary Thomson, AFGE District 7 stands united, resolute, and unwavering in our commitment to protect the welfare of the dedicated staff of USP Thomson,” AFGE District 7 National Vice President Jason Anderson said. “We will continue to fight to preserve the integrity of USP Thomson and the welfare of its staff. We demand that Director Colette Peters cease any action that would reduce staff pay.”
“Offering retention bonuses will help to mitigate turnover rates, and create a more stable experienced law enforcement workforce,” said Brandy Moore White, National President of the Council of Prison Locals, representing more than 33,000 BOP employees across the country. “The Council of Prison Locals understands the agency always has concerns when considering retention bonuses however, the cost of turnover including recruiting, training and lost productivity, far exceeds the investment required for retention bonuses.”
“Over 33% of our current staff have already written to the union stating that they will have to leave Thomson Federal Prison if Director Peters’ cuts are implemented,” said Jon Zumkehr, President of AFGE 4070. “This is at a time when our officers remain on the front-line working day in and out without fail; placing themselves in harm’s way. It is deeply troubling to ask them to sacrifice even more while the Federal Bureau of Prisons doubles the number of inmates at USP Thomson!”
“Over 33% of the current staff have already written to the union stating that they will have to leave USP Thomson if Director Peters' cuts are implemented. Setting up USP Thomson for success should be paramount for everyone at the Federal Bureau of Prisons,” Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea said in a letter to the BOP director. "The employees at the Thomson Prison possess a deep understanding of the unique challenges (faced by the prison) and bring a high level of expertise to this institution.”
“We are outraged that the Federal Bureau of Prisons is now considering a proposal to remove that incentive, which would be a slap in the face for the heroes who put their lives on the line every day to keep America's most dangerous felons behind bars,” Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Corrections Lodge 263 President Scot Ward said. “The Illinois FOP Corrections Lodge 263 unequivocally stands with AFGE Local 4070 members and strongly urges Director Peters to leave intact the pay for Thomson workers, who earn every penny of their hard-fought-for wages while doing a task that very few others could handle.”
“The Quad City Federation of Labor proudly stands in solidarity alongside our sisters and brothers who are fighting to keep their respective pay. Quality staff at the Federal Prison in Thompson, IL is critical for the safety of surrounding communities,” said Dan Gosa, President of the Quad City Federation of Labor, which represents a majority of union members across the Quad City area. “Considering the dangerous working environment they have, staff at the prison are already underpaid. The Federal Bureau of Prisons Director should keep their pay as is – or consider increasing their compensation, not cutting it!”