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Gov. Ricketts, Corrections Officer Union Applaud New Compensation Plan

Gov. Ricketts, Corrections Officer Union Applaud New Compensation Plan

 

LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts, state agencies, and representatives of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) issued joint statements after reaching agreement on terms for a new pay plan.  FOP represents corrections officers at the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) and safety and security specialists at the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Thank you to my team and the Corrections Union for coming together around a new pay plan that will help us recruit and retain a strong and effective team,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “This new agreement underscores our ongoing commitment to the dedicated men and women who tirelessly work in protective services to keep the public safe around the clock.”

“Through our efforts to address compensation, improve staff safety, and increase teammate engagement, I am pleased to see turnover among protective service staff continue on a downward trend,”  said NDCS Director Scott Frakes.  “In a robust economy with record low levels of unemployment, we acknowledge that staffing challenges are not a quick fix.  The great thing about improving retention is that it can build upon itself.  Increasing the number of experienced teammates will facilitate the onboarding and engagement of new staff members as we move forward.”

“This deal will help put Corrections on the right path to address the staffing crisis in our facilities and help us retain valuable employees,” said Mike Chipman, President of FOP 88.  “With this deal our members will for the first time in decades be able to advance though a step pay plan.  This will encourage people to make Corrections a long term career choice and reverse the trend in retention, which is the most important need for staffing.  I want to thank Governor Ricketts for coming back to the table to help address this need.  We look forward to continuing to work with Governor Ricketts and his team in the future.”

“This is a very important improvement in the compensation of corrections employees across the State,” said Gary Young, Chief Negotiator for FOP 88.  “I appreciate the efforts of the State bargaining team and the help we have received from the State FOP and our local team.  They have all worked very hard to get this deal done.  We are hopeful that this will make a serious impact on staffing in our prisons, where it is desperately needed.”

“At the bargaining table we worked collaboratively to get a good agreement for corrections officers and the State,” said Jason Jackson, the Governor’s Chief Human Resources Officer and Director of the Department of Administrative Services.  “This deal will make the State competitive with some of the highest paying counties in Nebraska while also allowing management more flexibility to make operational decisions effecting public safety.”

The new agreement includes five components:

  • Wage Increases: Corrections Officers will be reclassified as Corrections Corporals.  Corrections Corporals, Unit Caseworkers, and Sergeants shall receive wage increases pursuant to placement on newly implemented seven step pay plans.

o  New Teammates:  New corrections teammates will see the minimum rate of pay for Corrections Corporals and Unit Caseworkers increase to $20.00/hour, while the Corrections Sergeant minimum rate of pay will increase to $24.00/hour.

o  Current Teammates:  Current teammates will have their rate of pay increase to the new classification minimum rate of pay or the same dollar amount that the minimum has been raised, whichever is higher.

  • Performance Based Wage Increases: Corrections Corporals, Unit Caseworkers, and Sergeants will have the opportunity to receive step increases on July 1, 2020, following satisfactory performance reviews.
  • Alternative Shifts: Right now, state prisons are run using 8-hour shifts.  The State will get the discretion to implement 12-hour shifts at high-security facilities on up to 70 percent of posts, with the additional 30 percent consisting of 8-hour or 10-hour shifts.  This will help create a safer environment for Corrections teammates, provide flexibility, and reduce overtime.
  • Bonuses: The State will get the discretion to provide annual lump sum bonus payments of up to 10 percent of base wages to teammates in the Corrections Corporal, Unit Caseworker, or Sergeant classifications at high security facilities.
  • Hiring Rate Flexibility: The State will get the discretion to hire corrections officers working in other jurisdictions, law enforcement officers, and members of the military at a rate of pay higher than the minimum rate for Corrections Corporals, Unit Caseworkers, and Sergeants based on applicable years of experience.

Governor Ricketts and NDCS Director Scott Frakes have actively sought ways to partner with FOP to attract new talent and reduce staff turnover at state prisons.

In April, the State of Nebraska and FOP agreed on a system of merit bonuses for protective-services teammates who reach significant work anniversaries.  In July, current teammates who had already passed these milestones were eligible for substantial salary increases in recognition of their valuable experience and years of excellent service.

The State has had success reducing the rate of turnover for protective-services teammates.  The turnover rate declined from 2017 to 2018 and is on pace to be even lower in 2019.

The agreement is contingent upon a ratification vote of FOP members.

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