As California’s massive prison and parole department begins a historic downsizing to cut costs and comply with court orders, it’s getting a hand from organized labor, reports the Sacramento Bee. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association and five other unions have signed contract amendments for Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation employees that set aside some job protections, drastically cut employees’ state-paid moving allowances, and aim to reduce prison officer overtime costs.
The state estimates the deals will save about $13 million in this fiscal year, compared with the traditional layoff process. In exchange, unions hope fewer workers will lose their jobs as the department shifts some of its responsibilities to local government. That process started Oct. 1, aiming to cut the state’s prison and parole costs over several years. Although the state and the unions say the agreements are a plus for both sides, some employees are unhappy that they may have to uproot. Some union members are upset at the prospect of moving to remote facilities around the state. Potentially thousands of jobs are in play. “The unions had no choice but to play ball,” said Joshua Page, a University of Minnesota sociology professor who has studied the history of California’s penal system. “It came down to keeping benefits and protections or keeping jobs.”