AUSTIN, Texas – Texas corrections officers worked hard this year to resolve longstanding pay issues – an example of workers building power by joining together through their union.
Members of AFSCME Texas Corrections pushed state lawmakers during this year’s session of the Texas Legislature to approve the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ) appropriations request for $168.1 million, which would have included money for raises and a career ladder restructure that would have added an extra step at nine years of service.
While preparing for the uphill battle, Darrin Eakin, a food service manager at TCDJ’s Neal Unit and a member of AFSCME Texas Corrections, said, “We have a fight on our hands, and we are mobilizing everyone to overcome it.”
And mobilize they did. In a show of solidarity, members of AFSCME Texas Corrections participated in signing and delivering petition cards, lobbying legislators, making phone calls, sending emails and testifying at key committee meetings to get the full funding for their raises.
While their effort didn’t net the full requested amount before the biennial legislature adjourned on May 27, AFSCME Texas Corrections members were able to secure $84.1 million and implement parts of the career ladder restructuring plan.
TDCJ’s current proposals call for increasing the maximum salary of a Corrections Officer (CO) grade five after 73 months of service to $44,642 per year and moving officers more quickly up the career ladder. The proposals also include pay raises for security supervisors and food service and laundry managers.
“We will keep fighting for more rewards for experience; for pay raises for non-security employees; and for a fully funded pension as we gear up for election season and look forward to next legislative session,” Eakin said in an email to members.
Texas Corrections represents over 6,000 state correctional employees across Texas who hold a wide range of security and nonsecurity positions.