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Correctional Officers in Pennsylvania Join Teamsters

First Unit at Montgomery County Prison to Vote for Teamster Representation

Following an eight-month-long organizing campaign, a majority of the 235 correctional officers working at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility near Norristown, Pa., voted for representation by Local 384. The local already represents more than 800 public services employees in the area and is a member of the Teamsters’ newly created Pennsylvania Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Association.

Montgomery County Correctional Facility is a medium-maximum security prison facility. The facility houses 2,000 inmates and each day there are more than 150 visitors. It’s a sprawling complex and Teamster correctional officers are responsible for the overall security of the inmates, visitors and fellow officers.

“One of the main reasons we need Teamster representation is that management isn’t even using their own rule books,” said Pat Boyle, a six-year employee. “With a Teamster contract, we will have everything in writing. My father and brother are Teamster members at other companies so I know the value and strength that comes from being a Teamster.”

Fred Beard, a correctional officer for the past 12 years, said that this was the first time he had the opportunity to vote for Teamster representation. “I was involved with the organizing effort here because we need job security and someone to represent us.”

“These officers have to handle the worst people in our society,” said Chris O’Donnell, Trustee and Business Agent for Local 384. “It’s a very stressful job and they deserve to be compensated properly. We recognize that budgets of state and local governments are under a lot of pressure to cut spending, but the safety of correctional officers, and law enforcement in general, should not be sacrificed.”

Soon, the bargaining unit of correctional officers will be meeting to hammer out a draft of their first contract and begin the negotiating process with the prison’s warden and management committee.

“Once the contract is in place, the officers will be able to plan their work lives because they will have their salary, leave and other policies in writing in a Teamster contract,” O’Donnell said.

“Representation on the job is what I am looking forward to in our Teamster contract, and I want a contract so that the favoritism will end,” said Jen Rigler, a seven-year employee who serves as a transport officer and is part of reception control.

The local’s ongoing representation of county probation officers and deputy sheriffs was a big reason the prison correctional officers voted for Local 384, according to Mike Bonaducci, the local’s President.

“The correctional officers had seen how our other law enforcement members received better treatment on the job and they wanted the same,” Bonaducci said. “We are busy assembling data from other law enforcement contracts now so that we can be fully prepared to bargain their first contract.”

Growing Number of Law Enforcement Professionals Join Teamsters

With the organizing victory in Montgomery County, Pa., Teamsters now represent more than 2,000 law enforcement professionals in the state. This was a primary reason why, in December 2013, the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters voted and approved the creation of the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Association.

“This statewide effort to organize law enforcement officers needs to have coordinated resources and to rely on the expertise of Teamster locals who have effectively represented public employees throughout Pennsylvania,” said Bill Hamilton, International Vice President and President of the Conference. “Creating the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement and Correctional Officers Association will give us the ability to focus our organizing strength to its best advantage.

“Across Pennsylvania, we are succeeding in our representation of police and correctional officers serving the state and local communities,” Hamilton said. “Yet the fight over budgets and the continued need to protect citizens goes on. These brave law enforcement officers chose to be Teamsters because of our ability to negotiate good contracts which give them peace of mind.”

The newly created association is already bringing dignity to the more than two dozen police departments and correctional facilities that are Teamster-organized in the state.

“I commend the Pennsylvania Conference for taking the initiative to create a structure that will improve organizing and negotiating for public employees who want the best representation possible,” said Michael Filler, Director of the Teamsters Public Services Division.

As part of the newest unit, Beard said, “I believe that being part of the Teamsters Union gives you respect.”

Partial List of Pennsylvania Teamster-Represented Police Departments and Correctional Institutions:

POLICE

  • Borough of Berwick

  • Borough of Punxsutawney

  • Brentwood Borough

  • City of Clairton

  • Edgewood Borough

  • Homestead Police

  • Jefferson Hills

  • McKeesport

  • Paint Township

  • Peters Township

  • Pleasant Hills

  • Uniontown

  • Wilkinsburg Borough

CORRECTIONS

  • Berks County

  • Carbon County

  • Clearfield County

  • Dauphin County

  • Mercer County

  • Monroe County

  • Montour County

  • Northumberland County

  • Perry County

  • Potter County

  • Schuylkill County

  • Snyder County

  • Susquehanna County

  • Washington County

  • York County

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