Council 2 considers filing unfair labor practice charge against Spokane Countyby County & City Employee writer on December 14, 2012
Council 2 is to file an unfair labor practice against Spokane County over its plans to move 250 inmates out of the Geiger jail facility to a facility in Kennewick in Benton County.
The county wants to ship the prisoners to Benton County to save money. The Benton County jail can house inmates for less than $60 a day; it costs $110 a day to house prisoners at Geiger. But the inmates who would be moved are those with fewer mental, health or discipline problems and therefore can be housed for less money.
The move would result in layoffs at the Geiger facility. Spokane County employs more than 220 officers, sergeants and lieutenants at its correctional facilities.
Spokane County has filed a petition with the Public Relations Employment Commission to appoint an arbitrator and ask for a ruling that the inmates can be sent out of the county.
But Council 2 contends that moving the inmates would result in an unfair labor practice as contracting out the work done by the Geiger correctional officers is not something that an arbitrator can determine, but is part of the contract-negotiation process.
“It must be negotiated and agreed to,” explains Spokane Staff Representative Mike Smith. “Jails ship people all over the state because they are overcrowded, but, in terms of labor law, you cannot do so to save money unless it is negotiated.”
The county is also considering closing down the Geiger facility and shipping the inmates elsewhere, Smith adds. “If they try to do so, that would be an even bigger issue.”
The plans to move inmates and possibly close Geiger has caused several officers to find work elsewhere as they are afraid they will lose their jobs at the facility.
The locals that are affected are 492, 492-G, 1553-S, 492-S and 492-CL.