YAZOO CITY, Miss. – An independent arbitrator has found management at the Bureau of Prisons Federal Correctional Center Yazoo City in Mississippi guilty of violating the civil rights of the American Federation of Government Employees’ local president at the facility and willfully retaliating against her in violation of the union contract.
Arbitrator Ed W. Bankston ordered the agency to pay AFGE Local 1013 President Cyndee Price overtime pay for the 1,080 hours of union work she performed on her own time that should have been performed during duty hours under the approved contract and past practice. In addition, Price was awarded $300,000 in compensatory damages, plus attorney’s fees and expenses, for the intentional discrimination she faced.
“I’m grateful for this arbitration decision and affirmation of all the mistreatment, harassment, retaliation, and discrimination I have endured,” Price said. “However, for true justice to occur, the Bureau of Prisons must hold accountable the management officials who targeted me.”
Price has worked at FCC Yazoo City for 11 years, most recently as a Correctional Treatment Specialist, and had a clear employment record until she was elected president of AFGE Local 1013 in 2020. She was the first Black woman elected to serve as the local union president at any Federal Correctional Complex in the nation.
Prison wardens unilaterally prohibited Price from using 100% official time to perform her union work on behalf of the 700 employees represented by the local, even though previous Local President Vincent Kirksey had been granted 100% official time for the past seven years. Male local presidents at other Bureau of Prisons facilities also are on 100% official time.
Price filed a grievance against the agency for violating her civil rights and the union’s master agreement after unsuccessfully trying to resolve the issue informally with the prison wardens. The Bureau of Prisons regional director who received the grievance rejected it, claiming the grievance was improperly filed, yet the arbitrator rejected this argument.
In the two years since becoming local president, Price has been subjected to eight personnel investigations, including a pending removal by the agency, which the arbitrator concluded were “retaliatory and discriminatory” against Price.
In addition to back pay and compensatory damages, the arbitrator ordered the agency to grant Price 100% official time for as long as she remains a union official.
After being informed by Price of malfeasance and labor violations occurring at the prison, Rep. Bennie Thompson sent a letter to the Justice Department requesting an investigation into those violations and allegations of sexual misconduct, safety violations, inmate health issues, and illegal staff searches occurring at FCC Yazoo City. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s office also reached out to the Justice Department Office of the Inspector General regarding the allegations.
As of now, the union is unaware of any steps the department has taken to hold accountable those responsible for the alleged misconduct and Price’s mistreatment.