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AFSCME forces Pritzker administration to back down on Vandalia prison consolidation

Friday, Aug 12, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Labor Tribune

Union workers at Vandalia Correctional Center in Illinois will not be facing reduced capacity or layoffs in the near future, following protests from AFSCME and local officials.

AFSCME members had mobilized in recent weeks with petitions and appeals to elected officials after an announcement that the state was considering consolidation of populations within the prison that the union felt would lead to a reduction in employees and possibly closure of the prison in the future.

Council 31 pressed the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and the governor’s office to reconsider while invoking the union’s right to bargain over the impact of the changes.

“This is the culmination of months of work,” said Eddie Caumiant, regional director of AFSCME Council 31 and the union liaison to IDOC.

IDOC’s statement insisted that closing Vandalia was not the intent of the consolidation and conversion review, but that the department was only seeking ways to more efficiently operate the facility as the prison population has declined under recent sentencing reforms in the criminal justice system. Vandalia’s population has dropped from 525 on June 1 to 458 this week, while in February it was as low as 301, according to IDOC.

“At this time we have decided to hold off on the consolidation/conversion at Vandalia,” read the statement from IDOC. “If it is decided in the future to revisit this plan, we will notify AFSCME Council 31 and continue discussions.”

That last part is key, according to Caumiant, as union leaders had made it clear to IDOC that they could not make unilateral changes in the workers’ jobs and working conditions without negotiating.

…Adding… The Pritzker administration insists that no layoffs were ever planned at Vandalia. IDOC was simply trying to move prisoners out of a very old section into a newer section to comply with a consent decree.

       

10 Comments
  1. - thisjustinagain - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 1:08 pm:

    Looks like IDOC overstepped and was about to ignore the contract and not bargain. Who are the geniuses making these bad decisions, and why are they still employed?? This was a senior-staff decision showing IDOC’s incompetence once more. Governor?? Deputy Governor?? Bueller??


  2. - Needs Deleted - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 1:12 pm:

    Christian Mitchell everybody….


  3. - Chicago's Finest - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 1:15 pm:

    ===This was a senior-staff decision showing IDOC’s incompetence once more.===

    I’m not a IDOC employee, but 5 minutes of research shows:

    Prison Population according to IDOC website:
    June 2012: 48,000
    June 2022: 29,000

    IDOC Headcount according to Budget Book:
    June 2012: 10,757
    June 2021 (2022 is an estimate): 12,201

    So, the prison population has dropped by 40% and the IDOC headcount has gone up 13%, yet AFSCME won’t even hear it that there should be consolidations.

    Numbers don’t lie, union bosses do.


  4. - Lucky Pierre - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 1:22 pm:

    Tail Wags the Dog season 50, episode 35


  5. - Steve Polite - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 1:33 pm:

    Chicago’s Finest,

    “yet AFSCME won’t even hear it that there should be consolidations”

    Nowhere was that in the post or in AFSCME’s spokesperson’s response. IDOC tried to make these changes without notifying the union. There is a legally binding contract in place requiring impact bargaining with the union over changes “in workers’ jobs and working conditions”.

    Maybe you are not a supporter of contract law and following the terms of legally binding agreements?


  6. - Nick - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 1:46 pm:

    Not good


  7. - Frank talks - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 2:10 pm:

    Who cares not like prison employees vote for the Dem party. Weren’t the prisons the lowest vaccination rates among state employees? Spewing every type of garbage brought by every extreme site against the virus and vaccine? Why does the Gov keep bowing down to them?
    AFSCME took out Quinn back in 2014, after years of bashing him to their members and lots of negative media publicity against him (backs turned at State Fair) they got Rauner, look how that worked out for the State. Maybe AFSCME isn’t the most knowledgeable on how things should run?


  8. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 2:16 pm:

    ===Why does the Gov keep bowing down to them?===

    I think you answered that in your next sentence.

    ===AFSCME took out Quinn back in 2014, after years of bashing him to their members and lots of negative media publicity against him ===


  9. - Just Sayin - Friday, Aug 12, 22 @ 2:50 pm:

    ===AFSCME took out Quinn back in 2014, after years of bashing him to their members==

    Among one of those public Quinn bashing events by AFSCME took place 10 years ago this Monday. Governor’s Day 2012 at the fair (Aug. 15, 2012).


  10. - Fivegreenleaves - Sunday, Aug 14, 22 @ 8:29 pm:

    I was at Governor’s Day in 2012 when we protested Quinn. It took 14 months to get a contract out of him, meanwhile, he went on a closing spree and closed multiple state facilities. I was a CO for another prison when Tamms closed. The violence started to get worse afterwards. I remember readin a news story about a Lt. from Lawrence who had to have reconstructive surgery after his face was bashed in by an inmate. Closing Tamms was one of the worst things Quinn did while in office.


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