Monday, March 12, 2012

AFSCME Council 24 Press Release

March 12, 2012
Contact: Dan Meehan

It’s Not Working – It’s Not Safe
Walker shortchanging public safety by undercutting correctional workers

The administration of Gov. Scott Walker is putting correctional workers and Wisconsin communities at risk by letting penny-wise – pound-foolish ideology guide its decisions about the state’s correctional system, workers say.

In trying to make do with a staff stretched thin by a wave of retirements, the Department of Corrections is lowering the bar on the level of experience required to fill sensitive slots in many facilities. Relatively new officers who are untested in emergencies are now filling jobs that once required extra training and years of experience.

“By trying to make state workers into public enemies, Scott Walker flushed a lot good officers and experience out of the system,” said Dan Meehan, a 30-year veteran of the department who works at Waupun Correctional Institution.

“Walker’s administration hasn’t come close to filling the void they’ve created. As a result, it’s become a lot harder and a lot more dangerous to deal with the people who really are public enemies. This not only puts officers at risk, it threatens the safety of our communities,” said Meehan, who serves as president of Wisconsin State Employees Union Local 18.

In addition to causing an exodus of experienced staff without any serious effort to replace the talent that’s been lost, the administration has put a torch to work rules and local agreements once covered by negotiated contracts. This means established procedures are replaced by arbitrary and inconsistent pronouncements from above, often from bureaucrats far removed from the day-to-day realities inside the institutions.

“They’ve replaced labor-management collaboration and cooperation with top down ideology. If given the choice between using a handshake or a hammer, they are going to use the hammer. It’s a bad way to treat people and it’s killing morale. Our jobs are hard enough without being treated like dirt by everybody. We expect it from the inmates, but it shouldn’t also be raining down from above,” Meehan said.

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