CPL-33 National Newsletter
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Wardens Conference: The Director invited the Council President to address the Wardens at their conference. Also, present was Lee Lofthus, Assistant Attorney General for Administration in Department of Justice and other DOJ officials. There has not been many opportunity offered to my predecessors to address Wardens, so, I asked some of our distinguished CPL Officers to accompany me to Aurora, CO to observe the presentation. I communicated with the Wardens and Executive Staff for well over an hour, in a 30 - minutes speech, which ended in a questioning and answering session.
I started my speech speaking about my humble upbringing – expressing how I would not be where I am today had it not been the safe havens of the US Army, Council of Prison Locals and the Bureau of Prisons. I expressed my personal ambitions at one point earlier in my career was like many of yours – to advance in BOP. But, as is the case with all of us, in the Union, something happened along our journeys to change our outlook and aspirations. “For many of us, it took one or two managers who demonstrated disrespect, disregard, and disdain to us and other staff to sour our ambitions on management, in general. This is how unionists like us are born,” I alleged.
We become motivated by these types of managers because they do not desire to do right by staff. I exclaimed in the US military, it was the contrary. I articulated how I became a very skilled and proficient advocate figuring out ways to fight managers in BOP who mistreated staff. My message overall to the Wardens was that they sit in the seats of those who created us and have authority over others who continue to create us. I asked them to NOT emulate managers from their past, but chart a new course, find a new way, and follow the direction being set by the current Director and Executive Staff. I asked Wardens to adhere to the agency’s core values of integrity, respect, and instill correctional excellence in all staff, but most of all, hold their managers accountable for their indiscretions.
Nonetheless, I declared they should give partnership a chance so it can materialize in BOP. I conveyed partnership today has not been fully conceptualized at all levels because of the lack of trust and respect that still exist on both sides, I exclaimed. “If folks are plotting the demise of partnership, and waiting to say, ‘See I told you it is not real’ at the first sign of a challenge, then we will never move into the arena of partnership.” I expressed, "Our future can be bright, if we both decide to work collaboratively together, but it will take every Warden putting forth a genuine commitment to work with Locals to get us there."
I insisted Wardens pour excellence into our staff and, “have a do-over with the union leaders and the staff, to make their first impression a lasting impression.” I expressed, “Their visions of excellence for staff, will never be realized, if they permit managers under their command to dedicate energies to make employees’ workplace, a place of misery – impeding employees’ opportunity for progress and personal growth.” CPL is on a course to change the paradigm in this agency, but we cannot do it by ourselves. It will take everyone committing to the process, working alongside each other to ensure staff are being treated like true law enforcement professionals, but the most valuable resource of the agency. “The only time staff hears the word law enforcement is when they are being proposed discipline. “This is unacceptable and need to change. To advance our mission, we have to do things, differently. But, it starts with us,” I said.
I closed my comments saying, “As leaders in our agency we have to send a clear message that we aspire greater for the staff.” But, we need to send a much clearer message to everyone that we are working together on their behalf, through collaboration instead of contentiousness. "Jose, Eric and Osvaldo all did not know when they arrived at work; they were not going back home to their families," I conveyed. When staff are contentious in the workplace, they are not focused on inmates; and when they are not focused on inmates they can become distracted, with the end result meaning one of them not going home at the end of their shift.” This is the reality of our work. It is the reason CPL aims for total transparency in BOP and is working with staff best interests at heart.
Council of Prison Locals is committed to continue working together with management to do all we can to make our workplace a better working environment as we have done this past year. Our successes have been immeasurable. We have collectively done what some still call the impossible by achieving a new CBA; and expanding new initiatives to improve workplace safety in the agency. All these things are the additional tools to ensure staff are able to make it home to their families each day.
It was equally important to observe the Executive Staff interaction with the Wardens thereafter, especially, knowing almost half of the Wardens are new in their positions. As expected, the Director affirmed his aspirations to continue working with CPL to push partnership out to all Locals. I truly believe a lot of progress was made networking at this event. After the speech, many Wardens greeted the CPL Officers present and thanked us for our continued commitment moving the agency in the direction towards partnership.
Attorney General Eric Holder Resigns:
AFGE and Council of Prison Locals released a joint press released on the unexpected resignation announcement of Attorney General Eric Holder, and how the AG’s decision to leave the Department affects the employees in BOP. AFGE and its Council of Prison Locals thanked Mr. Holder for his dedicated years of service. Holder previously established a relationship with the Council when he was the Deputy Attorney General. In his tenure as AG however, CPL says Holder was an invaluable resource to federal employees, especially to those of the Bureau of Prisons. He moved mountains to make federal prisons safer – more than any AG before him. The AG was on the forefront speaking out against reforming old antiquated mandatory minimum and drug sentencing laws. "Attorney General Holder has never lost sight of his commitment to federal workers, and we'll be sad to see him leave his post," said AFGE President J. David Cox, Sr.
CPL believes Holder made great strides on issues impacting Bureau of Prisons employees and their families. “His commitment to the Bureau of Prisons employees was unwavering,” Young said. During the Sequester, he stopped the furlough of 38K BOP employees back in March 2013 and 2014. This past year, we lost an officer on the job (Correctional Officer Eric Williams). He was there to help honor our fallen and care for their family – promising justice also to the Williams family. When we spoke to him about this, and other critical issues, such as overcrowding and understaffing at the prisons, he took action - action to reduce unreasonable sentencing laws, issuing a directive to all United States Attorneys to refrain from pursuing mandatory minimums for low-level offenders.
He even testified before the US Sentencing Commission who later passed a unanimous vote to start releasing low-level first time offenders in 2015. Then, he testified in a Senate Appropriations Committee broadcasting a better working relationship with the Union and subsequently, announced the immediate hiring of 4300 additional staff in BOP. Holder went to great lengths to listen to us. He addressed all our Presidents this past February, in earnest. It was the first time an Attorney General met with all CPL leaders – ever. We look forward and aspire to continue his legacy of cooperation and dialogue with the next Attorney General.
Eric Williams' Murderer faces Death Penalty: On October 2, 2014, the Williams Family learned of the news from federal prosecutors prior to Holder’s resignation that he signed off on the death penalty being pursued against their son’s killer. The Williams were later interviewed at their home by local media – after, the announcement was made public. Don Williams, Eric’s father contacted the Council expressing his exhilaration. The Williams continue advocating legislators to pass essential pieces of legislations for our members, particularly, "Eric Williams Protection Act," to provide pepper spray to all staff working at medium-security level or higher-level facilities. Don Williams cited "Justice for Eric is to ensure the proper safety equipment and resources are made available to BOP, so no other family will have to endure this type of travesty.” CPL believes it is essential in ensuring all staff are safe and provides them an additional tool to assist them making it out the prisons each day, to return home to their families.
Litigation Victories: Congratulations are in order to FCI Raybrook for an Unfair Labor Practice decision and ruling issued by the Federal Labor Relations Authority regarding the agency's "Failure to Provide Information" upon request on the refusal to turn over video surveillance of a prison disturbance.
Congratulations are in order to FCI Sheridan for an Unfair Labor Practice decision and ruling issued by the Federal Labor Relations Authority regarding the agency's repudiation of both the June 7, 2011 Compressed Work Schedule agreement and Article 18 (b) of the Master Agreement.
Congratulations are in order to FCI Terminal Island for their win in a Portal-to-Portal arbitration. The Arbitrator ordered millions in back compensation and more than $770K in attorney's fees.
Congratulations are in order to FCC Pollock for their win on a Lost Overtime Arbitration case. The Arbitrator stated the agency committed an unjustified unwarranted personnel action and order back compensation and also attorney fees.
Bonus Bucks: CPL Bonus Bucks Campaign is still in full swing. But, it ends October 31, 2014. The AFGE National Office, Districts NVPs, Council and all Locals have teamed up to award considerable rebates for recruiters signing up new members. Recruiters can receive up to $200 per member. CPL's goal is to recruit at least a 1000 new members. Last year's rebate initiative garnered around 600 new members even though the effort was hampered by a two-weeks' government shutdown.
A New Bill (H.R. 5562): A bill was recently introduced in Congress by Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, CA. If enacted, the legislation would rename a Post Office Building after slain Correctional Officer Scott J. Williams who was murdered at USP Lompoc, CA more than seventeen (17) years ago.
I AM AFGE: The Council of Prison Locals sends our sincere thanks to Jill Carver, President of FCI Beckley and Nathan McCasline, President of FCI Edgefield. These Presidents are just a few select leaders who were chosen by the CPL Leadership to represent correctional workers in the Bureau of Prisons in interviews with AFGE “I am” campaign. Jill and Nathan have both announced their plans to retire soon. CPL wants to personally thank them both for their dedicated years of public service.
The AFGE "I am" campaign was created to reeducate the congress and members of the public on the important roles federal employees have in government. More important, it is a campaign to eradicate the negative perceptions of federal employees in the workplace. On behalf of the Council, we thank you Jill and Nathan for representing us all as LEO professionals.
To see their videos visit: "Safe Prisons Project."
Retirement Announcements (October 2014): Phil Glover, Northeast Regional Vice President (FCI Loretto) and Jasper Scott, former President L-3976 (FCI Estill).