California’s prison guards are upset that state legislators may block their planned 11.3 percent pay raise, says the Los Angeles Times. “We here are hard-working people,” said Ronnie Credle, 58, a 15-year correctional officer at Lancaster state prison. “And they’re trying to condemn us.” At issue is a five-year labor contract for the state’s 31,000 correctional officers. “This is an unsolicited, bag over the head, punch in the face,” said Lance Corcoran, the union’s executive vice president. “Our members are frankly disgusted.”
The contract was approved in 2002, but because the state cannot commit to increase spending for more than one year at a time, two-thirds of the Legislature must approve every new raise. State Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, a longtime union supporter, said does not endorse canceling the contract. “The correctional guards are an easy target just like MPs would be after what happened in Iraq. I find it difficult to blame a union for getting increased benefits and working conditions for their members when that’s their job. If the deal was too sweet and too far-reaching, the blame should lie with the administration that gave it to them.”
The standoff is being encouraged by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has been pushing the union to renegotiate the contract, so far without success.