The union bargaining team at Strafford County Department of Corrections has declared impasse after three months of attempting to negotiate in good faith with the county. The bargaining team delivered a proposal for a successor contract that included a request for higher wages to reflect the considerable extra duties, including forced overtime due to persistent short staffing that have arisen at Strafford County Department of Corrections. The requests sought in the proposal would be proportional with raises and benefits given to other County employees. The county’s negotiator rejected the proposal in its entirety.
“We stand in solidarity with our members at Strafford County,” said SEA President Rich Gulla. “Their hard work and determination needs to be reflected in a new contract. Anything less is unacceptable.”
This recent setback has prompted 23 additional employees to join the State Employees Association, achieving 100 percent union membership for the unit. “On top of not wishing to compensate the hard work we do, the head of negotiations for the county chose to verbally abuse the team on numerous occasions. We shall prove that the compensation we ask for is deserved and prove the head negotiator incorrect in his view of our group,” said Corrections Officer Brian Veit, referring to the inappropriate and salacious comments made to the bargaining team during negotations.
The corrections facility recently received high praise in a standard inspection conducted by a private consulting group on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In addition to serving the needs of the local community, the facility also processes and houses immigration detainees. In a recent email sent to all county jail employees, a member of management wrote, “The inspectors praised the facility … and stated every staff member they spoke to — whether a veteran or a new officer — was kind, helpful and knew the answers to the question they asked.” Despite the commendation, Strafford County shows no signs of moving closer to a reasonable contract for its correction employees.