Rell: Reject Prison Guard Raises

We were wondering why corrections officers would take to the airwaves with a commercial earlier this week. I’m guessing this is why:

Gov. M. Jodi wrote a letter to legislative leaders Thursday urging them to reject a state arbitrator’s decision to award 5,200 Department of Correction officers a three-year contract, which increases their salaries 3 percent in the first year and 2.5 percent in the following two years. (Stuart)

According to her press release, the arbitrator agreed with the state’s position in almost all cases, however:

“Unfortunately, the state’s last best offers were put on the table in May and were based on economic data available at that time, long before the national fiscal crisis created a sea-change in the state’s economic circumstances,” Rell said in a press release. (Stuart)

Now the governor wants the legislature to reject a settlement that the state advanced back in May of 2008, when there was no hint–no hint whatsoever–of an economic crisis. In fact, during that time Rell:

Obviously, the state had no warning that things might not be so great when this offer was made to the correctional officers, so it’s perfectly fair for the governor to perform one of her traditional surprise about-faces in asking the legislature to declare the decision null and void. What, exactly, will replace this contract offer is unknown. How long will correctional officers have to work without a contract?

It takes a two-thirds vote in both houses to overturn an arbitrator’s decision. It looks like it won’t happen, as Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams is strongly against the idea, and Speaker Chris Donovan didn’t seem all that wild about it either.

[poll id=”5″]

Source
Stuart, Christine. “Gov. Asks Lawmakers To Reject Arbitrator’s Decision.” CT News Junkie 8 January, 2008.

Advertisements

11 responses to “Rell: Reject Prison Guard Raises

  1. Genghis, I agree with your analysis 100%. The Governor is playing politics as usual and acts like a girl. She just can’t tell the truth to the boys she flirts with, leaving them mystified as to what happened and why. Finally the boys decide it wasn’t them, but the girl, and will presume that everything should proceed as planned.

    In other words, unless the Governor gives a real reason and says exactly what she means (if she even knows), then the legislature will approve the contract rather than consider a third alternative. Perhaps the Governor is locked with a sub-conscious set of consevative Republican voices telling her not to do it, but has no idea why or how to apply it.

    What I (or a certain previous Governor) might do is reject the contract citing the budget crisis. The “best” offer was a mistake, and raises should preferably be held to a zero raise for two years. 2% in both years might be the stretch, but they should be able to justify a freeze. Besides, the market should be starting to contract as prices re-adjust rather than inflate.

  2. The CO’s would be just as happy, or even happier if anyone ever bothered to listen to them.

  3. Ok. I’d go with a small raise then. Particularly since the jails have become more crowded over the past year and a half. They deserve an increase commensurate with the changing conditions within the prison system. I’d caution though, that teachers and public service employees should be paid an infinite salary for what they do.

    How much SHOULD a fire fighter be paid for running into a burning building? How much should a teacher be paid for enlightening minds and instilling and inspiring knowledge leading to hundreds of new leaders and inventors? And how much should Corrections Officers be paid to keep so many criminals locked up and be subjected to so much of their lives keeping us safe from those people potentially commiting heinous crimes again?

    We don’t have that kind of money and never will. Its not that we shouldn’t show our gratitude – we certainly should. But a government exists for those purposes that exist for the common good. The best model of government has everyone doing important jobs and not frivolous ones. Or at least very few low- maintainance ones. Yes, some are more safety oriented than others, but they make up a large part of the government.

    Is there another way to compensate or show appreciation for the job besides salaries and whole monetary dispensations?

  4. Wolcott Boy, I love you.

    As a retired teacher (of some 36+ years) I agree. There is no compensation for giving your heart and soul to the job because it is the right way to do it.

    I suggest that we add or substitute if necessary more than a dash of respect for those in the positions you cited. Showing respect for the people who walk in those moccasins , their expertise and opinions in program changes and managing the systems would go a long way to feel like some compensation as well as improve the workings of the departments.

    Some backup fromt hepublic would be a boost far beyond changing the salary by a persent or two.

    Of course that is my opinion, and i ma not getting paid for the job now.
    Public respect is a big deal for these positions though.

  5. Some backup from the public would be a boost far beyond changing the salary by a percent or two.

  6. Ending the ludicrous war on (some) drugs would empty 60 percent of our prisons, and free up a considerable amount of state money.

    I will not hold my breath that the Phoney Godmother will do anything remotely fiscally progressive, like freeing non-violent drug offenders from prisons.

    Stop the fiscal waste – stop prosecuting a wasteful war on drugs.

    peace,
    kk

  7. GC:

    In snarking, I think you’re missing a sense of just how different the situation was in the spring compared with, say, September.

    Yeah, Rell was taking steps in April to trim state spending — and getting scoffed at for it. And even those who agreed the horizon was darkening had no clue we would see the kind of Wall Street debacle the early fall brought.

    The two periods — let alone now, given that it was November when the full scope of the $6 billion hole was understood — are really not comparable.

  8. Ending the ludicrous war on (some) drugs would empty 60 percent of our prisons, and free up a considerable amount of state money.

    Krayeske got one right!

  9. Obviously, the state had no warning that things might not be so great when this offer was made to the correctional officers, so it’s perfectly fair for the governor to perform one of her traditional surprise about-faces in asking the legislature to declare the decision null and void. What, exactly, will replace this contract offer is unknown. How long will correctional officers have to work without a contract?

    There are valid arguments on both sides, So let the matter be debated and voted on in the Legislature. That’s what they’re there for.

  10. How do we know if corrections officers are being paid enough?

    My guess would be that if there are many positions unfilled that the state cannot find qualified applicants to fill, the state isn’t paying its corrections officers enough.

    If, on the other hand, every open position yields many qualified candidates, then the state is probably paying corrections officers enough.

    I don’t know if the state is having any difficulty filling its jobs, but that’s a good methodology to use, isn’t it?

  11. Bellas Quest

    Considering how much overtime the corrections officers must work, and reports year-after-year of understaffing, we aren’t in a position to answer whether they’re paid adequately given gmr’s supply-and-demand test.

    And, the notion that employers should drive wages down to some break-point that makes working there so unattractive that vacancies result is irresponsible and counter-productive. It encourages a “race to the bottom” that more resembles China’s working environment than the one America has prided itself on fostering.

    As is true in any occupation, the more years of experience you gain, the more you should get paid. And, as is true of any reputable employer, providing responsible wages and benefits attracts better employees and reduces costly turnover.

    All that said, the Corrections Officers took concessions in the agreement – delaying their due compensation for increases in experience and agreeing to let inflation outpace the growth of their income. That’s a pay cut.

    Rell simply took the cowardly route. She jumped on the bandwagon of bashing unions, as if employees averaging $47,000 a year are responsible for the state’s deteriorating economic condition. She and other self-serving politicians who succumb to this strategy irresponsibly inspire hardworking citizens to blame other hardworking citizens for the state’s ills. They distract from the real problems at hand.

    Let’s not get distracted. The legislature needs to focus on the many more significant issues at hand.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s