Wendy Davis Gives Support at AFSCME Event
Posted October 14, 2013
Posted September 4, 2013
AFSCME/CEC has been fighting for years to get some kind of climate control. The agency claims they do not have the funds, and the money must be allocated by the legislature to be able to put any air conditioning in place. Well, the new hog barns being climate controlled really was the straw that broke the camel's back. A renewed charge was given to us to push again to help correctional officers. AFSCME is part of a class action law suit attempting to get some type of air conditioning in the Texas state prisons. We are in this lawsuit for the correctional officers and we will see it through. We need your support as correctional employees, with global warming and longer summer heat, this is way past due. Correctional officers and other staff are TDC's greatest asset, and it's time they were treated as such. If we waited on the law makers in Austin it would never get done. It's time for action and that is what AFSCME is about; action!
I can't imagine any TDCJ officials being opposed to this proposal. If they are they are not the officers friend. TDC officials all work in air conditioning and have it nice but believe me if they had to work without it they would be up in arms. The time for change is now! Let's get it done. Texas is one of only five states that has not stepped into the 21st century with regard to the air conditioning.
The fans blowing hot air are not good enough and the noise it so loud it can damage hearing, and good luck if you yell for help because no one will able to hear you. AFSCME needs your help! Join up and become part of this dynamic group fighting for correctional employees' rights and future. Call us at 1-800-374-9772 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
83rd Legislative Session
January 8th - May 27th, 2013
by Toby Tobias
Posted July 5th, 2013
For this newsletter I chose to present an overview of a typical Texas Legislative Session, 140 days long, and filled with more drama than a daytime soap opera - the Edge of Night, As the World Turns, the Secret Storm and the Harper Valley PTA - all played out on a national stage. The cast of characters include 150 House Members; 31 Senators, who are paid $600 per month, except during the Session when the pay jumps to $150 per day. Now don't tear up over this low level of pay; their retirement is tied to District Judge's pay and their retirement packages are very significant. Add the Lieutenant Governor and, of course, the Governor and their support cast of hundreds, all with offices in one building we lovingly call our State Capitol at 11th Street and Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas. This distinguished body meets for 140 days every odd year. It has been this way since Reconstruction days. There are many Texans who still view this method of legislation as a "part-time" body, in that they are not in year-long continuous session; however, when not in Regular Session they are in their elected home districts working on constituents' issues; therefore, they are fulltime legislators. If the Regular Session is not sufficient to get the job done, the Governor con call a "Special Session" over the Regular Session for the specific purpose of what he identifies as the subject matter in the Special Session, and can continue with Special Sessions until the task at hand has been completed.
During any Legislative Session this elected body files some 5,000-6,000 bills to be addressed in a mere 140 days. On average only approximately 25% of this number (1250-1500) passes muster and become law. This number is an average and can be more, or less, in any given session.
Constructed of a reddish brown granite from Marble Falls, this stupendous edifice we know as our Texas Capitol Building is a magnificent work of art in a regal setting, standing tall, strong and proud like the citizens of our state, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are experienced here daily, both for House and Senate Members and their constituents. That's just the way it is in a democracy and perhaps always will be. The whole exercise of any Legislative Session is first to produce a balanced budget for the upcoming two years, correct errors from previous sessions, initiate new laws to better serve and protect our citizens and, where possible and practical, reduce the tax burden for the share holders of our state known as tax payers. Sometimes it actually works out.
A story told around the Capitol is about Farmer Brown. Having never been to the Capitol, he showed up and ran into his representative. He had his representative backed up against a wall and asked why is it you guys never get anything done over here in 140 days, the time it takes me to grow and bring in a crop? The representative was taken aback and attempted to inform Farmer Brown about the entire workings of a Legislative Session and the trials, tribulations, ups and downs and crazy turn-a-rounds they deal with in such a short time frame. Farmer Brown frowned, shook his head and told his representative he had a better idea for Legislative Sessions. The representative asked what would that be. Without hesitation Farmer Brown told him instead of having a Legislative Session every two years for 140 days, they should hold a Legislative Session every 140 years for two days and you people would get off your butts and get something done for the people of this state.
If you have never visited the Capitol, you owe it to yourself to make it a point to do so. After all, the Capitol Building belongs to you and every one employed there is on your payroll as your employee, so why not visit your property and take ownership. You will be glad you did, and your visit reconfirms to those working there - from top to bottom - who they are there to serve and why all twenty-two million of us have a vested interest in what goes on there and by whom. Not to do so makes us absentee landlords and that is never a good thing.
The Correctional Employee Council of Texas, "the Union for Correctional Employees", makes it easy for Correctional Officers to participate in a Regular Legislative Session. Before each new session is called in January of the odd calendar year, we promulgate three (3) designated Correctional Officer Lobby Days, in which you join other TDCJ officers from around the State at the Capitol and call on your House and Senate elected officials and face-to-face with them on issues important to you in uniform. A sea of gray over, under and around the Capitol on these days is the most effective and results-driven way to achieve your goals and, in this way, you have taken ownership.
For additional information call the CEC 7 Huntsville office: 1-800-374-9772.
Enjoy your visit!
From the Executive Director
Posted June 17, 2013
Recently we found out that correctional employees for the state of Texas were awarded a 5% pay raise over a 2 year period, with other non-security and state employees receiving a 3% pay raise. It was not an easy negotiation to get these raises and that makes me wonder at the thought process of our state leaders, since DPS and other state law enforcement received a 20% pay raise. AFSCME fought long and hard for the additional 2% for gray, and I am proud we were able to get it, but state political leaders Just Do No Get It. Correctional officers work in some of the most dangerous and hostile work environments on the planet, and yet get no respect. The Austin statesman newspaper stated AFSCME/CEC was the most vocal of all employee organizations this legislative session, and they are right. We pulled out all the stops, including showing the politicians how to close two unnecessary private prisons to save state jobs and state tax payers millions; 100 million to be sure. But then to be put on the back burner was very frustrating to say the least. I personally stood outside the Dawson State Jail Private Prison at one of the protests in downtown Dallas. At AFSCME we know how to get our hands dirty, to get things done. The DPS deserve a raise because they work a very dangerous job, and I know that; just respect us enough to treat us as professionals as well. It obviously hurt all TDCJ employees that we had less than anticipated turnouts at the TDCJ lobby days, and now we see what's happened. Numbers count.
But then to add insult to injury, the Governor and other top state leadership gave out huge pay raises to top state directors and officials. This is not fiscally conservative or responsible. It is also horrible for morale, for state employees, and in particular, for state correctional officers. I am simply appalled at this irresponsible, foolish, and tyrannical move. The well to do come out great and the correctional officers just get screwed.
I cannot remember being this angry in the last 22 years of union work. This just shows how out of touch the state political and legislative leadership are with reality. How can this happen? State leadership is lacking and it's time for a change. We have a lot of friends in Austin who really did fight for us or we would have received next to nothing, but they helped us get the additional 2% because they understand. Senator Whitmire was the leader of this coalition. If you have a chance, write or e-mail him and say thanks for his help.
Honestly, this shows a lack of really knowing what is going on. Brad Livingston received a nearly 40% raise. He deserved a pay raise. He's a honest, hard working man, with a lot of burdens, but 40%? The director in my estimation should receive what the CO's got; 5% over two years. That being said, Brad is not the problem here. If you were offered a big pay raise, you might take it as well. I'm not going to hate on Brad for the raise. My anger will be with the state leadership who is willing to kick CO's and state employees in the guts and throw us to the wolves. How has our state political leadership sunken to such a new low? Those in power obviously think they cannot be defeated, but I swear that we will not let this slide, and I encourage all state workers to help us make change in 2014. It's time for some of these jerks to say goodbye to state office, whatever that office may be.
Brian E. Olsen
Texas Prison Raise Raises Questions
Posted May 21, 2013
With the Texas Legislature releasing its finalized budget this last week, correctional officers question why their pay raise was only half that of other statewide law enforcement. Lance Lowry President of the Huntsville American Federation of State County Municipal Employees, which represents Texas Correctional Officers, stated Monday that the State Legislature is treating correctional officers as the ugly stepchild of the Criminal Justice System. Texas Correctional Officers will only receive a 5 % raise over two years, while all other state law enforcement will receive a 10 % raise. Lowry states with the raise split up over two years and an increase in retirement contributions, correctional officers will only see a little over 1% increase in their actual pay this next September.
Lowry has attempted to address with the legislature the increasing staffing shortages which plague Texas prisons. Staffing levels have fell to almost half the required officers at several Texas prison units. Lowry states the current proposed increases fails to cover inflationary cost of living over the last two years and the legislature is being unrealistic on their attempt to address chronic staffing demands now in the thousands. With energy production increasing dramatically in South and East Texas, Lowry states most officers can make twice as much in the energy sector and expects staffing to only get worse.
In the late 70's and 80's the Texas Prison System was plagued with chronic under funding, which resulted in the Federal courts taking over the prison system. Lowry states the legislature and state leadership have signaled again they are incapable of properly running their prison system and states history is repeating itself.
Lowry states while most correctional officers are out of sight and out of mind, they do one of the most important jobs in our criminal justice system. The job is hot, dirty, extremely dangerous, and is one of the most stressful jobs anyone can incur Lowry states. Prison officers receive little recognition unlike police who are exposed to the public everyday. Lowry states there is a clear wall of silence shielding correctional officers from the general public.
In February, 17 former prison guards were indicted by a federal grand jury after a 4 year investigation authorities dubbed Operation Prison Cell. The guards are alleged to have help inmates commit crimes from behind bars at TDCJ's McConnell prison in Beeville, including bringing in drugs and cell phones to coordinate crimes outside the walls. Lowry states while the majority of correctional officers are honest, the poor pay, lack of experience, and work conditions make prison officers more susceptible to corruption. Lowry states current politicians making the decision were short sided by not treating correctional officers with professional respect. Lack of loyalty and commitment creates an atmosphere for corruption. Lowry states it's not hard to look south of the border and see what a low wage criminal justice system gets you.
Lowry states every time he visits the Texas Capitol he is haunted by the words of AFSCME's former Beeville Union President Daniel Nagle, who stated in 1999 while on the Texas Capitol steps, "Someone will have to be killed before they do anything about the shortage of staff in Texas prisons." Two weeks later Officer Daniel Nagle was killed at the McConnel Prison Unit in Beeville by Inmate Robert Pruett who now awaits execution for the murder.
Lowry states he appreciates a raise, but with the amount it's like appreciating a doctor treating a bullet wound with a small bandage, the problem is still there. Lowry says the prison raise raises more questions on how the state realistically plans on staffing a chronically understaffed prison system with only a small increase in pay.
Contact Your Representatives to Close Down Private Prisons
Posted April 23, 2013
Yesterday the Texas House of Representatives named their budget conference committee, who will decide budgetary matters including TDCJ's pay raise. By closing down unneeded leased bed space, pay can be increased an additional 4% for most TDCJ employees. Contact the conference committee members today and ask their office to close down unnecessary leased beds at the Dawson State Jail and Mineral Wells private prisons. This move will save $95 million. Please mail or email the sample letter below to the Legislative member and their Chief of Staff.
Conference Committee Members:
Senator Tommy Williams (R-Montgomery County)
Chief of Staff Email: Janet.Stieben@senate.state.tx.us
Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound)
Chief of Staff Email: Dave.Nelson@senate.state.tx.us
Senator Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock)
Chief of Staff Email: email@example.com
Senator Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
Chief of Staff Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston)
Chief of Staff Email: Lara.Wendler@senate.state.tx.us
Representative Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie)
Chief of Staff Email: email@example.com
Representative John Otto (R-Dayton / Huntsville)
Chief of Staff Email: Nikki.firstname.lastname@example.org
John Zerwas (R-Simonton)
Chief of Staff Email: Meghan.Weller@house.state.tx.us
Myra Crownover (R-Lake Dallas)
Chief of Staff Email: Kevin.Cruser@house.state.tx.us
Sylvester Turner (D-Houston)
Chief of Staff: Email: Alison.Brock@house.state.tx.us
Dear Honorable (Representative / Senator)_____________,
As a steward of taxpayers dollars, I am asking you to close down the Dawson State Jail and Mineral Wells private leased beds. Right now the State of Texas has over 12,000 beds which can accommodate inmates from these facilities. With staffing shortages needing to be addressed, closing these facilities will save Texans $95 million and the allocation of resources can be used to address staff development and shortages in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Dawson State Jail and Mineral Wells private leased beds exemplify how prisons should not be ran. Mineral Wells private prison is rated the highest security risk prison in the State of Texas and leads the State of Texas in inmate cell phone confiscations with over 117 confiscated this last year. The low wages paid by these prisons place an economic burden on the taxpayers who have to foot the bill to fund social services, indigent medical services, food assistance, free school meals, public housing, and loss of tax revenue. The profits Correctional Corporation of America make from Texas taxpayers leave the State of Texas, hurting the Texas economy even further.
Dawson State Jail is located on prime downtown real estate in Dallas along the Trinity River. Currently the property generates no positive revenue for the city of Dallas or it's school district. The private prison is the scene of great controversy with the preventable deaths of three females and a baby. It's operation places great liability and negative publicity on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice after the facility failed numerous medical audits and poses a security risk to the community due to high staff turnover. During the 81st Interim Session, TDCJ cited their private contract prisons have a staff turnover rate of 90%, which included TDCJ Correctional Corporation of America contract facilities.
Let's close Mineral Wells private prison and Dawson State Jail to better allocate state resources towards the safety of our communities.
Update on Handgun Bill HB 3420
Posted April 23, 2013
Our correctional handgun bill HB 3420 is stuck in the Homelands Security and Public Safety committee. If you want to help us get this bill moving, call your state representative and ask them to intervene so this very important bill won't die. Call the committee members as well. Chairman Joe Pickett, 512-463-0956, Vice Chair Allen Fletcher, 512-463-0661, and other committee members, Rep. Cortez, Dale, Flynn, Klein Schmidt, Lavender, Sheets, and Simmons. Tell them we need this bill and please get it out of committee. Do this ASAP.
The only opposition has been a small law enforcement group of little consequence trying to protect their supposed truth. Now is not the time for these groups to get petty when correctional officer's lives are at stake.
Also, we are trying to stop the pension retirement age from going up. Stay tuned.
Lobby Day Success and Fallen Officer Ceremony
Posted March 26, 2013
On March 21st, AFSCME/CEC7 had its main Lobby Day for correctional employees for the state of Texas. It was a timely opportunity because the Texas Senate approved a 10% increase while the Texas House approved 5%. Now they must come together into a joint committee, which will be made up of Senators and House members, who must work out their differences. Our presence will certainly have had an impact. Senator Wendy Davis, District 10, and Representative Roberto Alonzo, District 104, spoke at the Lobby Day Fallen Officer Ceremony, on the south steps of the Capitol and said correctional employees deserve more respect and pay, and we thank them both for their sincerity and concern.
The Fallen Officer Ceremony was a somber and respectful event. We wish to thank the TDCJ colorguard for being there and looking very professional and distinguished. They were a great touch to the ceremony, and we could not have done it without them. Becky Moeller spoke on Daniel's death, of knowing Daniel Nagle, and seeing him grow as a CO and union activist. Becky is the Texas AFL-CIO President and knew Daniel on a personal level. As tears ran down her face, she said to join together under one banner to get things done, join AFSCME and carry the fight to the capitol.
Mike Marette, ACU Director (retired), also knew Daniel and reiterated the promise of this union to educate all three of his kids at a college or university anywhere in Texas, paid for by AFSCME. That is how we look after folks.
The Executive Director of TDCJ, Brad Livingston, spoke as well, and reaffirmed his support of TDCJ employees, and we thank him for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak.
CO's were also recognized by Representative John Otto, District 18, from the floor of the House. He said these people do the toughest job in Texas. He was right.
We continued on to push for all the bills, helping TDCJ employees and worked on opposing any bills that were harmful. Our next Lobby Day is May 16th, 2013. Details will be posted on the Events Calendar page. Get involved; it's your future.
TDCJ Day at the Austin Capitol
All TDCJ Employees are invited to this free event
Posted March 21, 2013
9:00 AM Planning meeting at 1106 Lavaca Street, Austin, Texas
View Google Map
10:00AM Meet in the Third Floor House Gallery for House Resolution Honoring TDCJ Employees
12 Noon Fallen Officer's Ceremony on South Steps of Capitol (TDCJ Region I Honor Guard)
1:00 PM Senate Gallery
Come in Class "A" uniform pressed and ready to honor TDCJ fallen employees. All other persons should dress in gray clothing. Be respectful to all persons. This is a nonpartisan event. All correctional organizations are welcome to attend this event. There will be dignitaries from both parties attending this event.
Remember from IH 35 exit 11th Street. See map for Capitol Visitor Parking
Your involvement makes a difference
Items at issue:
- 14% Pay Increase.
- Benefits (Sick time, Insurance, ect).
- Gun Rights HB 3420 and HB 3271
View HB 3420
View HB 3271
United We Stand, Divided We Beg.
Texas Correctional Employees Council is Seeking to Turn Jones County Prison into a State Run Prison
Posted February 28, 2013
On Wednesday Lance Lowry, President of the American Federation of State County Municipal Employees (Huntsville Local 3807 Texas Correctional Employees) called on state leaders to end three contracts with the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), citing abuses and poor management of their contracts. Lowry stated the Correctional Corporation has a history of abusive practices, which lead to the deaths of three females and a baby at the Dawson State Jail in Dallas last year. All four deaths were preventable according to Lowry.
AFSCME Texas Correctional Employees is seeking to shut down the CCA Dawson, CCA Mineral Wells, and CCA Lindsey private prisons. Plans calls for the inmates from the private prison to be moved into state run facilities operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice which are geared up more to reduce recidivism. Lowry stated the inmates from the Lindsey State Jail in Jack County could be moved into the Jones County Prison as short as September 1st.
A state run prison would result in higher paying jobs than a private prison could bring to the area. AFSCME will present the plan to the Texas Legislature who is looking to get smart on crime. With state run facilities being safer, Lowry states "inmates have a greater chance of reforming. Dangerous private prisons breed gang activity and result in higher cost to the taxpayers in the long run. Publicly operated facilities are better managed and offer a greater degree of safety to the communities around them. Private prison companies make their profit by filling beds and have been known to encourage incarceration. Texas is currently becoming a national model on reform and savings to the taxpayers by getting smart on crime. With private prison growth in Texas coming to a stop 4 years ago, Texas has seen recidivism go down."
According to a study released last month by the Washington State University, the study found private prisons can impede local economic growth. Gregory Hooks, professor of sociology at WSU stated, "our study reveals that, in states moving quickly to turn over management of their prison systems to outside companies, the privatization of prisons often has a negative impact on employment prospects in host counties."1
The Jones County Prison has remained empty for the last three years after being built on the prospect of housing private contract inmates from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Lowry states his group supports the Texas Department of Criminal Justice operating and leasing the facility. Lowry states, "Jones County will come out better from this deal, than with a private prison in their community. The state has a greater incentive of reducing recidivism than private prison corporations do, with lower recidivism that's bad for corporate business. Most corporate prisons end up moving profits out of the state, creating a losing situation for Texas."
1Hooks, Gregory. "Prisons, Jobs and Privatization: The Impact of Prisons on Employment Growth in Rural U.S. Counties, 1997-2004." Prisons, Privatization and Jobs. Washington State University, 28 Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. http://cooley.libarts.wsu.edu/hooks/prisonPrivatizationGMH.html
Posted February 6, 2013
AFSCME is committed to working for TDCJ and UTMB employees and we are locked in battle to do so. Number 1 is the 14% pay raise. Number 2 is the HB 877 TDCJ oversight bill. Number 3 is the conceal and carry bill for correctional employees. Number 4 is to close two private prisons; Dawson in Dallas and the Mineral Wells private unit.
We are garnering good support for this 14% pay raise and with your help as TDCJ employees, we hope to get this accomplished.
The HB 877 would give additional oversight of TDCJ by the legislature and AFSCME would have more say in what goes on inside. This would benefit all TDCJ employees.
The concealed and carrying handgun bill for correctional employees would allow current in-service training to be used as their official training to get their permits. A nominal fee of $30 would cover any administrative costs. Fingerprints and background checks are already conducted, with urine checks already done as a bonus, that the free world doesn't have to do. We think this is a no brainer to ensure the safety and security to off duty correctional officers in Texas. Other states already have this and it's time to give our officers the respect they deserve, as professionals.
The other is closing two private prisons to help fund the corrections pay raise. Help us to get this agenda done. Join AFSCME. We have strength in numbers, and we do not back down.
AFSCME Texas Correctional Employees Call on State Legislature to Support Correctional Officer's Rights to Carry Off Duty
Posted February 6, 2013
Prison gangs in Texas are no laughing matter. On January 31, 2013 at 8:40 AM, Mark Hasse, the Assistant District for Kaufman County exited his vehicle in front of the Kaufman County Annex and was approached by two masked men carrying guns. Before Hasse could react shots were fired on the veteran prosecutor, who was investigating members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas prison gang.
Unfortunately retaliation against public servants is nothing new in Texas. Peace officers have always been able to carry weapons off duty. Recently prosecutors have been added to the list of public officials allowed to carry off duty. Correctional officers have been left out over the past years to this exempt class of off duty weapons carriers.
Being a correctional officer places you in greater contact with prison gang members. Being on the inside does not protect you from gang members on the outside. In March 2010, Officer Arthur Redelfs, an El Paso County Correctional Officer, was leaving a party with his wife Lesley Enriquez Redelfs, who worked for the U.S. Consulate, and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, a maquiladora supervisor and husband of consulate employee Hilda Antillon. Redelfs had a run in with members of the Barrio Azteca prison gang while at work. Gang members called for a hit on Officer Redelfs killing him, his wife, and guest.
AFSCME Texas Correctional Employees is calling on the Texas Legislature to support the off duty carrying right of correctional employees.
See Attached Model Legislation AFSCME is calling to be enacted.
Posted January 30, 2013
AFSCME/CEC7 had its first Legislative Lobby Day for 2013 on January 24th 2013. There was an executive board meeting January 23rd in Austin and the next day the executive board, made up of TDCJ CO's, got their feet wet by visiting the capitol to see their State Representatives and State Senators. They were 20 strong and they made a great impression. AFSCME is asking for a 14% pay raise for all TDCJ employees, as well as closing some private prisons. The money for closing the private prisons could go towards state CO's pay raise.
Of course we want to keep our pensions and benefits as well as improve working conditions. All CO's and other TDC employees are welcome to the next Lobby Day of March 21st 2013. We will be briefed at the AFL-CIO at 9am on March 21st then on to the capitol. At 12 Noon on the south steps of the capitol there will be a TX CO's fallen officers ceremony. This will be an emotional time but a honorable act. Please be there. Let's fight for dignity and professional respect together.
You Are Invited
Posted January 3, 2013
To attend the planning of your future!!!
March 21, 2013 / May 16, 2013
TDCJ Correctional Employee's Lobby Day
- Privatization of ERS Retirement
- Cost of living pay increases 14% (3.5% for each fiscal year 2012-2015)
- Sick Time Benefits / Vacation Benefits
- Reduction of Health Care Benefits
- Work Place Conditions and Safety
- 9 am Correctional employees meet at 1106 Lavaca Street, Austin Texas
- 12 Noon (March 21) Fallen Officer's Ceremony on the South Capitol Steps
Attention AFSCME Members
We will be up against the usual attacks we always encounter during the upcoming legislative session, only there is a new twist, with some new players. The ALEC group has been exposed and brought into the light, and we now see them for what and who they are. It turns out the ALEC group is basically against all public employees and using current and past Texas politicians to push their agendas. We are prepared for these carpetbaggers, but you need to know what they are up to. They want to kill your current retirement, and benefits. They also want to keep you as employees from any lobbying on your own behalf in Austin. These people are tyrants that want to take what you have and are working very hard to achieve that. Do not be fooled by their slick appearance and velvet tongues. They are after you; make no mistake about that. We at AFSCME have the strongest political front to stop them, so advise your co-workers and friends to hitch up to our wagon, if they want to stop these evil doers in their tracks.
Our lobby days for the 2013 legislature are:
- March 21st at 9 am meeting at the TX AFL-CIO Auditorium at 1106 Lavaca Street, Austin TX. We will be briefed, then we will move on to the capitol to meet with politicians. Then at 12 Noon, there will be a Fallen Officers Ceremony on the South Steps of the capitol. Please show up for this vitally important ceremony.
- May 16th 2013 we will again meet at the TX AFL-CIO Auditorium at 9 am, be briefed, then on to the capitol.
This is an opportunity for all TDCJ employees, as well as UTMB employees to become involved in their future. Care enough to fight back. Join with us to fight for dignity and respect.
Texas Correctional Employees' Union Seeking Pay Raises
August 28, 2012
The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Correctional Employees Council 7 has announced plans to seek a 14 percent across-the-board pay raise for all employees of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
"TDCJ employees put their lives on the line every day in the interest of public safety," said AFSCME CEC 7 Executive Director Brian Olsen. "They have a dangerous job and they should absolutely be compensated for it.
"Despite the fact that TDCJ has the largest prison system in the nation, the agency currently ranks 47th in the United States in terms of correctional officer pay," he continued. "If we want to address the critical officer shortages in units across the state, we have to be able to offer competitive pay. It's time to close the gap."
TDCJ figures show a correctional officer vacancy rate of about 2,700 positions. Entire wings of some of the most critically understaffed facilities have been shuttered due to the officer shortage.
In addition to seeking a 3 percent pay raise for TDCJ employees, Olsen said the union also will be working with state lawmakers to protect state employee pensions, and to compress the current correctional officer career ladder from 8 years to 5 years, which will, in effect, allow correctional officers to reach the top level salaries sooner.
"We recognize that the state is facing a budget shortfall and certainly can appreciate that money is tight," Olsen said. "But, if we don't improve correctional employee salaries and at least make them competitive with other industries, our units will continue to operate at less-than-safe staffing levels.
"This will continue to pose a risk to public safety," he added.
AFSCME/CEC 7 represents TDCJ employees, as well as employees of the Windham School District and correctional contract employees with the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and Texas Tech Health Sciences Center.
AFSCME/CEC 7 repesentatives gave testimony to the Texas Sunset Commission in March, and to the Texas House of Representatives' State Affairs Committee in June, fighting for better working conditions for correctional employees and speaking against further privatization of the state's penal system.
Texas House of Representatives
July 23, 2012
Committee Hearings on:
- State of Affairs
- Government Effiency and Reform
These two committees met jointly on Wednesday, July 11th at 10 a.m. in the Texas State Capitol.
AFSCME Executive Director Brian Olsen, Staff Rep. Ronda Bell, and two CO's from Local 3806 showed up to the testify for the Correctional Employees of the State of Texas. Richard Salazar was there as a resource witness and Keith Neal testified. Our testimony was in opposition to any further privatization of state prisons in Texas. There were those there who testified for and against privatization but AFSCME representatives gave compelling testimony to stop any further privatization. After our testimony, co-chairman Byron Cook publicly supported our argument against any further privatization. We say thank you to Representative Byron Cook, District 8, for standing his ground and supporting Texas State Correctional Officers. AFSCME again was the only state employee organization there to testify for state correctional employees. No insurance company, charitable foundation, or employee lobby group can save the day. Only AFSCME lives up to what we claim. All other groups are a mockery and do not deliver. The proof is in the facts. AFSCME is number one. Always has been and always will be. Get the facts straight. Give us a call at 1-800-374-9772.
Sunset Advisory Commission
TDCJ 2012, June 5th
On June 5th, 2012, the Executive Director of AFSCME/CEC7 and three TDC CO's showed up with the AFSCME/CEC7 Political Action Director to testify on behalf of all CO's and other TDCJ employees.
Arriving at 7:45 a.m. for the 9 a.m. meeting, they had to wait until after 3 p.m. to testify. Over 7 hours waiting to speak. AFSCME was the only state employees organization to be there for TDC employees. That's not unusual. Other employee groups want the easy way. They sign up CO's and then leave them on their own, and when the CO needs help, the CO calls that employee organization only to find they can get NO help! Then they call AFSCME.
Executive Director Brian Olsen testified that AFSCME/CEC7 had done a confidential CO survey by way of the AFSCME website. He touched on many issues including, the massive turnover, and the reasons why:
- Pay. TDC is 48th in pay nationally.
- Training. It needs to be improved.
- Overall officer safety. Safety comes with experience, which is getting harder and harder to find in TDC officers.
- Lack of informal resolutions on the unit level. We believe officers should not be written up for minor offenses, but should be shown and trained by other officers and rank on what they need to do. Not write offenses for rinky-dink offenses to make others look good.
- Racist environment. White, black, hispanic, and other officers stated they all feel racial tensions at the units. TDC has no diversity training, but needs one like the former Personnel Director Dr. Moore had. Time to change with the times.
- Grievance procedure. CO's overwhelmingly said the current procedure is inadequate and there is too much retaliation involved with filing a grievance.
- Unit access for employee organizations who are recognized by the state of Texas and certified by the state for payroll deduction and represent employees in agency disciplinary grievance, mediation, and other related hearings on the units. This would be on a limited basis and AFSCME/CEC7 is the only employee organization that does all of this.
- There should be a Coordinating Review Council to create transparency, and to review future reports, rather than filter those reports.
After all this, the time was up, but AFSCME stood tall for all TDCJ employees. That's no surprise. That's what we do.
Pension Reform Recommendations by the Public Policy Foundation
May 22, 2012
Step 1: Freeze the defined benefit (DB) plan to all new and unvested public sector employees.
Step 2: All new or current unvested employees transferred to a defined contribution (DC) plan.
- DC plan should meet average standards for a large private sector DC plan
- Attributes can include (rates should be actuarially verified)
- No miminum length of service requirement for eligibility in DC plan
- Participation in DC plan permitted upon hire
- Non-matching contributions of up to 6.0 percent of pay, immediate eligibility
- Employer match up to a set percentage of pay, immediate eligibility
Step 3: Implement either hard freeze or soft freeze of system for current vested employees.
- Under a hard freeze, benefits earned at the time of the freeze honored
- No public employee able to accure any new benefits
- All vested public employees transferred to DC plan for any additional benefit
- Under a soft freeze, the benefits for vested employees continue growing
- Vested employees choose between staying in the DB system or switching to the DC system
- Benefits, employee contributions, and COLAs should be altered so that the DC system is favored by most workers
- Raise employee contribution rates
- Extend the salary period used for determining retirement benefits
- Increase the age and service requirements for eligibility
- Implement greater controls over post-retirement COLAs
- Retirees will maintain their current benefits with changes to COLAs
It must be noted that the Public Policy Foundation is not a friend to public employees, including correctional employees. This is a right wing group attacking state workers again. AFSCME is on the record stating, "Leave our pensions alone. We work hard for them. To attack our pensions is a savage abuse towards TDCJ employees. Back off!"
A Promise Kept
May 16, 2012
May 8, 2012
Ms. Ruth Snoddy
360 Slater Road
Gatesville, TX 76528
This is confirmation of your conversation with Michael Marette, Assistant Director of Corrections in our Organizing and Field Services Department.
As promised in 2001 at our AFSCME Corrections United Congress, AFSCME will help pay for Daniel's children's college education, as long as they attend a college in Texas. This will include tuition, books, school fees, lab fees and technical fees.
We understand from speaking with Michael that both Mike and Rebecca are straight A students and Mike has started to look for a college to attend. Please keep us informed of his progress, along with Rebecca, when she is ready to attend college.
It warms our hearts to hear that the children are doing so well after the unspeakable tragedy of losing their father.
LEE A. SAUNDERS
GERALD W. McENTEE
cc: Michael Marette, Assistant Director of Corrections, Organizing & Field Services
Steve Fantauzzo, Director, Organizing and Field Services Department
Brian Olsen, Deputy Director, AFSCME Council 7
Area Field Services Directors
This is a letter from AFSCME International to the grandmother of Daniel Nagles' children. This promise was made several years ago, after the funeral of Daniel. Daniel was brutally murdered on the McConnell unit on Dec. 18th, 1999. Five days before, he stood on the steps of the Texas State Capital, during a correctional officers march and rally, and stated, "It will take a correctional officers death to get real change in Texas for CO's." Sadly, he was right. Daniel's death sparked a huge outcry from Texas Co's for change and it helped us to get much needed changes made. One of which is the CO's career ladder, and the stopping of the banking of overtime, just to name a couple of the changes. This promise will be kept by AFSCME to his children. I promise it. He was my good friend, and we have at AFSCME/CEC7 helped bury that man. We will never forget.
- Brian Olsen. Executive Director
20 Years - Moving Ahead
February 6, 2012
AFSCME/CEC7 has now been in existence for 20 years and counting. It is with Great Pride that we announce our 20th year as the organization that represents the correctional employees of Texas. We kicked off our 20 year commemoration with a $10,000.00 donation to the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice color guard. Back in Sept. of 2011, during the National AFSCME Corrections United Conference in Houston, Texas, AFSCME President Gerald McEntee had told me that AFSCME International was going to make a donation to the TDCJ color guard. My understanding was that they would give around $1,000.00 as a donation. Imagine my surprise when President McEntee announced AFSCME was giving a $10,000.00 donation. He stated, "They deserve it." The donation presentation was done in Huntsville, Texas, Monday, Jan. 30th, at 2pm at the TDCJ conference center in Huntsville, Texas. The whole color guard was assembled. View the pictures in our photo gallery.
We are proud to have served TDCJ, UTMB, Texas Tech, and the Windham employees these past many years. With their support, we have gotten a lot done, and we look forward to getting even more done for these employees despite the hostile, anti-state work atmosphere across the country, including Texas. We look forward to serving the state correctional employees for 40 more years and beyond.
20 Years of Service
February 6, 2012
AFSCME/CEC7 donated $10,000.00 dollars to the TDCJ color guard, during the AFSCME corrections united convention on September 17th 2011. AFSCME International President Gerald McEntee told the national corrections convention in Houston, that the color guard of Texas had done such a great job, and was so impressive that AFSCME was going to donate $10,000.00 to them. This money will go to the color guards future travel as long as it lasts. This was a "from the heart donation" to the TDCJ employees, that AFSCME appreciates so much. The color guard will be traveling in June to a national color guard event in Washington DC, and this donation will cover all their expenses. This donation kicks off the maritime 20 year anniversary of AFSCME/CEC7 as the union representing the correctional employees of Texas. The TDCJ color guard is one of the sharpest units in America, and one of the most proficient. Whenever and whatever function your color guard unit participates in, they become the face of the "Texas Department of Criminal Justice" and that says it all.
Mike Marette (left), ACU Deputy Director, is passing a $10,000 check to the TDCJ Color Guard, received by Mike Upshaw (right), Region 1 Director for TDCJ.
August 30, 2011
It has come to our attention that some FTO's and supervisors are telling New Boots once they get to their assigned units they must drop out of the union. If this ever happens to you, please contact the AFSCME/CEC7 union at 1-800-374-9772. Not only is this against TDCJ policy, but in many cases it could be a violation in state and federal law. Supervisors or employees with access to officers must remain neutral at all times. If a FTO or risk management employee tells you to drop out of AFSCME "Beware". They may want you to join other organizations that are not what they appear to be. AFSCME is the only true union. Call us or look on this website to see who we are and who they are not. If you work on any unit and this has happened to you call us as soon as possible. The Stiles unit in Beaumont is now under the microscope and we are conducting an investigation into these allegations and turning over to TDC.
Texas State Employees Organizations Comparison Study
July 6, 2011
"Don't be confused"
This report will show the differences between an association, foundation and a union. There are several groups out there who are after state employee dollars so please pay attention to the FACTS!
T.P.E.A. - Texas Public Employees Association
This group is a lobby group for all state employees. They work on systemic issues that affect all state workers. They are not a union! They can not handle employee unit work related problems. They do not attend disciplinaries, grievance hearings or mediations. They also do not help employees with workers comp. problems, or any unit problems. If you call them to get help with a hearing, they will tell you that they do not do hearings. AFSCME gets several calls a week from T.P.E.A. members who are in trouble but can get no help from them. Part of the confusion, and a real problem, is that some T.P.E.A. representatives are misrepresenting their association. I have had numerous reports that these representatives say they do the same thing for Texas state corrections employees as AFSCME does, but for less. This is a bold face lie and contemptible. Recently, I also received a report that a representative from T.P.E.A. told a pre-service class that T.P.E.A. is a union. This type of misrepresentation is inexcusable. T.P.E.A. is not a union, and will not represent its members in any type of hearing or help them with any work related issues on the units. People, you get what you pay for. AFSCME is the real deal. The phone calls we receive is proof when the chips are down. You better be with AFSCME.
T.S.E.U. - Texas State Employees Union
T.S.E.U. is our sister union within the Texas AFL-CIO. They are a union and they represent Texas state employees outside of corrections. All state employees outside of corrections or managed healthcare can count on them. We work closely with them and they do a great job.
C.P.O.F. - Correctional Peace Officers Foundation
This too is a good charitable organization. They help correctional and peace officers who have catastrophic needs. We have no problem with this organization. But it must be noted they are not a union or organization that can help correctional officers with unit problems. The are a charity group only. We partner with them on many events.
AFSCME/CEC7 - American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Union, Correctional Employee Council 7
We are the only union for TDCJ employees. We are also the only organization that can and will represent members in a disciplinary, grievance or mediation hearing. In fact, the only reason TDCJ has a grievance or mediation procedure is because of this union! The grievance procedure was won in Texas District Court several years ago and AFSCME wrote the bill for mediation, in which AFSCME got the bill passed. If you research who attends and represents TDCJ employees in the Criminal Justice legislative hearings, you will see it is just AFSCME. All others are absent. We attend these legislative hearings and killed numerous harmful bills that would have done great damage to TDCJ employees. The correctional officers stand on the wall for Texas and keep us safe. AFSCME stands on the wall for the correctional employees, always vigilant, always there.
AFSCME will also help you with any grievances or EEO issues, not only representing you in hearing but helping you write up the grievance as well. We will help you with ADA issues, workers comp., FLSA or FMLA issues as well. We are the experts in employee problems, and that in itself sets us apart. If there is an escape or natural disaster we will be there during escapes. Our trailer is allowed inside the escape perimeter, to get out water and soft drinks. We done this for 20 years. After hurricane Rita and Ike, we assisted thousands of TDCJ employees in the recovery efforts. We were recognized by proclamation twice by the Texas legislature for all we have done for TDCJ employees after the hurricanes. We are the only ones with this honor. No one can compare to what AFSCME does. No one has ever matched us in what we do, and no one ever will. Join the winning team and don't go through the embarrassment of being deceived by other organizations that sell snake oil. We are the only real deal. Listen to Senator Whitmire, the chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice subcommittee: "If all the corrections officers would join AFSCME, they would get what they want."
We stand alone as the state's leader in representing TDCJ employees. We are the only employees organization to get a positive bill passed for any public employee in Texas, and possibly the whole country for 2011. That bill was HB988. This bill gives COs 2 years to use comp. time instead of 1 year. We wrote it, got Legislators to carry it, testified on it, and got it moved through both the House and Senate, and got the Governor to sign it. Everyone said it could not be done. Never tell AFSCME that! We just worked that much harder and got it done with our political friends. We know how to get it done. We are proven and tough. We astonished everyone with our victories. We killed so many bad bills, one politician told me, "I do not know how you guys do it." I just smiled and said, "We are persistent and never give up." We represent only corrections employees so don't be confused.
Perks: To Be or Not To be.
April 6, 2011
There are a number of Lawmakers in Austin who want to cut every little benefit TDC employees have. These perks are very few and far between, and cost the state very little, and in some cases the state makes money.
Talking about meals on the unit, one Lawmaker told me that he had heard that COs had their own mess hall where they received special meals to order like steaks and other luxurious items.
I informed the politician that TDC employees who eat on the unit basically eat inmate leftovers, and never get special meals. I informed him that was a total fabrication. He seemed surprised. There hasn't been a steak on these units in so long I cannot remember.
These same legislators want unit employees to have to pay per meal they eat on the unit. I told him it was so rare for officers to get a lunch break that I doubted they ate many meals on the units. If employees were charged they simply would just not eat on the unit. We will see how this turns out.
One of the other perks they were fussing about was the haircuts and laundry service. Employees pay $7 a month for this service and it turns out it costs TDC $250,000 dollars a year to cover the service and they make over a million dollars a year on employee service payments. TDC makes $750,000 in profit each year on their employees. How is this perk detrimental? This is just another example of micromanaging from the Capitol. When will the madness stop? AFSCME will fight these attacks wherever they come from, and we will try to keep you up to date.
March 9, 2011
AFSCME/CEC7 is committed to trying to stop any housing payment increases to any employee who wears gray. We feel any increases would be detrimental to those officers who live on the units, and help to keep Texas safe. All gray from correctional officers up should not have to pay one more cent towards housing.
Everything is on the table for cuts in Austin. From housing to meals and laundry service, just to mention a couple. We will continue to try and stop any changes to any benefits correctional officers have, but help us to fight by getting involved.
HB 988 was layed out before the House Corrections Subcommittee March 8th, 2011. Rep. Lois Kolkhorst filed this bill on our behalf, she put it before the committee, and it was well received. We hope this bill will come out of committee 3-16-11.
HB 988 is the Comp. Time Bill that allows officers to use their comp. time over a 24 month cycle instead of just 12 months. We hope this will help officers from losing that time on the books.
It must be noted that AFSCME/CEC7 is the only employee organization to attend all Corrections Subcommittee hearings and Criminal Justice Appropriations Hearings to date. AFSCME was there and no other group. Their absence is to be expected. In life you get what you pay for.
March 3, 2011
On Tuesday, March 1st, 2011, the House Appropriations Committee met with several state agencies including the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. It was tough to watch as agency after agency went forward to get sliced and diced with budget cuts. As TDC was brought to the cutting table before the House Appropriations committee, as the Executive Director of AFSCME, I was very nervous. The committee had already cut TDCJ 555 jobs layed off before April 1st, and was getting prepared to do more damage. The committee had also frozen the career ladder for two years, starting September 1st, 2011. They had also cut numermous programs and departments, and also looking to privatize other parts of TDCJ. Another cut was to cut all unit staff by 7% in pay. The same amount as the last biennial pay raise in 2010-2011. A roll back of pay to everyone on the prison units. This was astounding to us that the state would balance the budget on the backs of its employees, but then again, it is happening all over the country. These are tough times people, and get use to the attacks on public employees by the right wing. They do not believe state workers should have any rights. Even though AFSCME in Texas does not have collective bargaining, we have thrived and had success because of hard team work and a will to win. Sometimes we have confronted the enemy and beat them down on grit alone.
My point is this, with very tough work behind the scenes, AFSCME has been able to get the career ladder restored against all odds. If you think this was easy, think again. Much of the rest of the cuts are pending, including the 7% roll back on pay, so keep calling and writing and e-mailing your state reps and senators. We are in the fight for our very lives. I have to also mention that Oliver Bell (Chairman of the TDCJ Board), and Brad Livingston (Executive Director TDCJ), have also been working tirelessly to stop these cuts. I take my hat off to them. I will see you March 24th for this continued fight for dignity and professional respect.
Brian Olsen, Executive Director AFSCME/CEC7
Membership Applications at all TDC units
January 7, 2011
We now have approval to have our membership applications available on each and every TDC unit. This was negotiated by AFSCME/CEC7 and is approved by TDCJ. Look for our application dispensers on your units to see if it is in an accessible place for people to see and use, or if it needs to be refilled. If you cannot find the dispenser, ask H.R. where it is. If it's locked up in some back room, let us know at H.Q. in Huntsville, and we will let TDC officials know what is going on. Union members need to be vigilant in making sure everyone sticks to what has been approved. Our members are our eyes and ears. You make it happen. If you are interested in becoming more involved in your union, call your local or call the AFSCME headquarters in Huntsville at 1-800-374-9772 or email email@example.com. We have Steward's training coming up in July, or just attend the area membership meetings for these times and places. Each area has its own meeting times and dates. Get involved. Its your future.
June 2, 2010
The Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS) has some upcoming Proposed Cost Changes for September 1, 2010.
Please view this document.
For the glossary and common questions associated with the Recommended Cost Changes, please view this document.
We're working for you in your unit, in Austin, and in Washington
We've got your back.
When it seems no one will help, AFSCME is there.
We're the correctional workers' union—the only employee group that represents correctional officers and staff in disciplinary hearings, grievances and mediations. And we're successful 75% of the time.
We're the only group that regularly meets with the TDCJ executive director and the board chairman to discuss pay, training, the grievance process and other key issues. Management hears you loud and clear—because of AFSCME.
In April 2009, AFSCME's CEC7 organized a "lobby day" in Austin, and dozens of COs visited their representatives and senators to push our agenda. At a rally on the Capitol steps, COs heard from Sen. John Whitmire, chair of the Criminal Justice Committee, and from TDCJ executive director Brad Livingston.
Demanding professional respect!
When it seems no one will help, AFSCME is there.
At the State Capitol in Austin, AFSCME is the only union demanding that you receive the professional respect you deserve.
Because of the hard work last session of AFSCME's professional staff and members, TDCJ works received larger pay raises than any other state employee group—and the largest CO pay raise in a non-collective bargaining state. We won the fight to end banked overtime, and we won third-party mediation on termination, which no other public employees enjoy.
Working with legislative leaders, our Austin staff waged successful efforts to create a new CO position and extend the career ladder. We've repeatedly defeated efforts to privatize the system. And we continue to fight to create professional certification for corrections officers.
Battling for collective bargaining!
Even with recent pay raises, TDCJ correctional employees are among the lowest paid in America.
That's why AFSCME is pushing the U.S. Congress to pass the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (S.1611 / H.R. 413) to require most U.S. employers of public safety officers—including TDCJ—to enter into collective bargaining agreements with their employees for decent pay, long-term job security and better working conditions.
If we win in D.C., the Texas Legislature will be required to enact collective bargaining into state law.
AFSCME REPRESENTS more corrections officers than any other union or any so-called "employee association." We fight for tens of thousands of COs. And we get results.
Join our effort to win professional respect for TDCJ's COs and staff so we can make TDCJ a good place to build a career and earn a good living you can raise a family on.
CEC7: Fighting For You!
Dear TDCJ Employee:
Correctional Employees Council 7 is the Texas union local of AFSCME's nationwide Corrections United.
Backed by thousands of TDCJ COs and staff who have joined our union, we've been working hard on your behalf—at your unit and in Austin—to improve your working conditions, your paychecks and benefits, your professional training, your grievance procedures and your personal safety.
Corrections work is high-stress, underpaid work. That's why TDCJ loses one-quarter of its COs every year—and why our prisons are chronically understaffed. We're working to change that—to make TDCJ a place where more people want to build lone-term careers.
We've made great strides and scored many successes, but there's a lot left to do as we fight for your recognition as corrections professionals—and for the pay and respect that go with that.
AFSCME has the ear of the powers-that-be, but with you and thousands more of your co-workers at our side, we can win many more concessions and make TDCJ a much better place to work.
Resolution honored by Lois Kolkhorst
H.R. No. 586
R E S O L U T I O N
WHEREAS, Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Corrections Council 7 in Huntsville have distinguished themselves through their generous assistance to correctional officers affected by Hurricane Ike; and
WHEREAS, In the aftermath of the hurricane, union members began coordinating efforts to help correctional officers located in the devastated Gulf Coast region; they collected and prepared a variety of essential goods, including food, ice, water, and hygiene kits, and distributed them to officers in Beaumont, Dayton, Texas City, and Angleton; and
WHEREAS, The contributions of these caring public servants remind us that many individuals working together for a noble purpose define the best sense of community and that the strength of a society can be judged by its response to those in need; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 81st Texas Legislature hereby commend the members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Corrections Council 7 for their Hurricane Ike relief efforts and recognize them for their commitment to their fellow officers; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That an official copy of this resolution be prepared for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Corrections Council 7 as an expression of high regard by the Texas House of Representatives.