MIL-OSI USA: National Union Leaders Call on Justice Department to Stop Pay Cuts for Workers at FCI Thomson

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Source: American Federation of Government Employees

AFL-CIO issues letter urging the Department of Justice to reinstate retention pay bonus for nearly 500 federal officers

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is calling on the Department of Justice to reverse its decision to eliminate retention pay for hundreds of officers at FCI Thomson in Thomson, Illinois, that was removed on December 31. To combat high staff turnover, a federally mandated 25% retention pay bonus has been in place at FCI Thomson since 2021.

Joining those calls, the AFL-CIO has issued a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, warning of an immediate loss of personnel and drastic difficulties related to recruitment and retention at the facility going forward. 

“These workers are federal employees doing hard and dangerous work,” writes AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “It is important that this Administration take seriously the health and safety concerns of its own employees and be a role model for all employers. I ask you to step in and assure that this untimely and potentially dangerous decision is retracted.” 

According to AFGE Local 4070 President Jon Zumkehr, who represents workers at FCI Thomson, roughly 150 staff have indicated in writing that they intend to leave for other employment opportunities if the retention pay is not reinstated. Indeed, Bureau of Prisons Director Colette Peters has testified before Congress about the issues the agency has with retaining staff, citing low pay. The removal of a 25% retention incentive is sure to exacerbate that problem. 

Click here to read the AFL-CIO’s full letter to the Department of Justice.  

Officers at FCI Thomson have endured low morale and dangerous working conditions for years – including hundreds of instances of sexual assault and misconduct against staff by inmates. Those issues have only been exacerbated by chronic understaffing and high turnover at the facility. FCI Thomson is currently 71 employees short of the number authorized. 

“Our members risk their safety every single day at work, only to be hit with what is effectively a 25% pay cut. At a time of rising costs, this is a crushing blow for hundreds of essential workers and their families,” said AFGE National President Everett Kelley. “The workers who safeguard our communities deserve far better.”