The head of a union representing Wisconsin corrections workers says plans to give many of them a pay raise are a “good start.”
The Department of Corrections announced Thursday that it will give correctional officers, sergeants, and youth counselors an $0.80 hourly wage increase, which will kick in at the end of June. The agency also plans to provide a $0.50 per hour wage add-on to workers in similar positions at Waupun Correctional Institution, Green Bay Correctional Institution, Columbia Correctional Institution, and Copper Lake School/Lincoln Hills School, while all employees could receive Discretionary Merit Compensation awards before the end of the state’s current fiscal year.
DOC Secretary Jon Litscher, who was appointed to replace former Secretary Ed Wall earlier this year, said in a statement that the pay hikes are part of a department-wide effort to increase retention of DOC employees in critical areas. “These changes will increase DOC’s ability to recruit and retain qualified employees to fill critically important positions,” he said.
AFSCME Council 32 executive director Rick Badger said the announcement shows the agency is willing to acknowledge the pay issues his members have been talking about for the past five years. “Employees have not stayed, they’ve gone to other jobs because of the work…and we think this is a first step that shows reflection that there has to be adequate pay for people to stay,” he said.
Badger said he hopes the new approach will also mean the agency is open to addressing other issues raised by front-line workers, such as workplace safety and mandatory overtime policies. “We also hope the new corrections secretary will take this opportunity reach out to the correctional officers and work on the other issues that are not monetary.”