Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee promised substantial pay raises and increased staffing to Delaware's correctional employees during a press conference sponsored by the three unions representing corrections officers and employees in Dover on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2004.
Lee spoke in front of hundreds of corrections employees who are angry over mandatory overtime caused, they say, by a shortage of 270 corrections workers, and what they feel is low base pay.
The press conference was called by COAD (Correctional Officers Association of Delaware), FOP Lodge 10 representing probation employees, and AFSCME Local 247, representing prison counselors and other employees.
"This is not just an issue about pay," Lee said. "It's about respect and safety for the hardworking state employees who perform their duties every day under terrible circumstances. For all your hard work and dedication the governor has given you nothing.
"You are facing a crisis and she is not willing to face you and listen to your problems," Lee said. "Where is she? I don't see her here," Lee added.
Lee said that never again should corrections officers be forced into overtime or "frozen" at the expense of their families, their safety and their well being. "The stress this puts on their families and the system is terrible," Lee said.
Lee again called for an inquiry that would be completely independent of the governor and the legislature and which would be charged with reviewing prison procedures across the board.
"The Governor has repeatedly ignored pleas by corrections guards and workers for increased funding for staffing and security in Delaware's prison system.
"We had a $350 million dollar surplus this year, yet when our correctional employees are underpaid, assigned mandatory overtime, and are confronted with inadequate staffing on a daily basis, they are ignored."Lee said.
Lee pledged the following immediate steps to deal with the state's prison breakdown if elected governor:
"It's time to stop talking about the corrections crisis. If elected governor, I promise to take action," Lee said.
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