AUGUSTA — State Representative Bill Pluecker (I-Warren) presented LD 271, “An Act To Recruit and Retain Department of Corrections Facilities Support Staff” to the Maine Legislature’s Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee on Monday, Feb. 22.
As written, this bill would require Department of Corrections support, maintenance and other nonsupervisory staff to be given a $2 per hour increase in their wages. This bill was written to give parity to Corrections staff after correctional officers received their wage increase in 2016.
Pluecker introduced the bill after witnessing during the COVID-19 outbreaks, that Corrections support personnel showed up and performed functions well outside of their job description in order to keep the facilities running, a news release stated.
The chronic short staffing of the facilities became a crisis, but many were recognized as stepping up from all over the system to ensure that the facilities were safe and secure, according to the release.
The employees realized how needed they are in a time of crisis and were rightfully due a raise they never received, the release noted. The majority of staff at the State Prison and the Boldoc Correctional Facility are residents of Knox, Lincoln and Waldo counties.
“Every bit of rehabilitative programming that we expect to reduce recidivism is dependent upon these people showing up to their job, feeling supported in their work by their employer, and delivering professional programming,” said Pluecker, in a statement. “When we short these workers, we short the programming, and the fundamental mission of our criminal justice system.”
This bill is supported by the Maine Service Employees Association -SEIU, Local 1989.
In 2020, Pluecker was before the Criminal Justice & Public Safety committee to bring parity of correctional officers pay to state troopers. This bill received near unanimous support from the committee, but the measure was unable to be signed into law due to the pandemic impeding the meeting schedule of the full state legislature.
Pluecker is serving his second term in Augusta and represents the towns of Appleton, Hope, the eastern half of Union, and Warren.