Correctional Workers: Keeping Communities Safe


Washington State’s 5700 correctional employees perform some of the most difficult, dangerous work imaginable. They put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities and keep all of us safe.

Correctional employees, custody and non-custody alike, are frequently the target of assault and have reported being spit on and having toxic cocktails of bodily fluids thrown at them.

THE PROBLEM: Washington State correctional employees are severely underpaid when compared to their peers.

Despite the important role they play in reducing recidivism and keeping our communities safe, correctional employees are severely undercompensated for the critical public safety work they perform. According to the State’s 2010 and 2014 salary surveys, Washington State DOC employees in nearly all job classifications are compensated at a rate of between 10-40% less than employees in other jurisdictions who perform similar work.

THE SOLUTION: Respect the arbitrator’s decision and fully fund the DOC contract.

A neutral arbitrator has recently issued an award that takes a small step toward rectifying this injustice. The arbitrator has called for a 5.5% general wage increase for Washington State correctional employees in the first year of the 2015-2017 biennium and a 4.3% increase in year two. These increases do not come close to bridging the enormous compensation gap between Washington State correctional employees and their peers.

In addition, the arbitrator has awarded:

  • a modest increase for overtime exempt employees on call; 
  • a shift differential for nurses who are required to work on the weekend; 
  • an additional 2.5% increase for correctional sergeants;
  • changes in salary range to the job classifications that are the furthest behind their comparables.

The overall award is expected to cost $53 million GFS over the 2015-2017 biennium.

Washington State correctional employees have lost approximately 11% of their earning power over the last six years. They are radically underpaid when compared to employees who perform similar work in other jurisdictions. It’s time to correct this injustice and fully fund the DOC contract. The brave men and women who staff our State’s prisons deserve equitable pay, dignity, and respect.

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