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Thomson Prison Improves Pay Incentive for Staff

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File
AP Photo

Union workers at the Thomson prison are happy about the extension of a pay incentive to all employees.

But Members of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 4070 say more needs to be done.

Guards at the federal prison north of the Quad Cities receive a 10% retention pay incentive. And last Friday, the Bureau of Prisons received approval for the rest of the staff.

Jon Zumkehr, President of Local 4070, says a year-and-a-half ago, Thomson had 160 vacancies. But recently, that number has dropped to less than 100. Now, the union is requesting He says the union supports increasing the retention pay incentive to 25% for all employees because that would help the prison retain workers.

Rep. Cheri Bustos with Jon Zumkehr, Pres. of AFGE Local 4070
Jon Zumkehr
Rep. Cheri Bustos with Jon Zumkehr, Pres. of AFGE Local 4070

Zumkehr says the shortage of guards and staff also stems from competition in eastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois job market.

Currently, it takes up to six months for a new hire to actually start earning a paycheck. Veterans who get jobs at Thomson prison can start work much faster under "direct hiring authority."

He and the union would like to allow direct hiring for all staff to allow new hires to start earning paychecks immediately instead of having to wait months.

The union has also asked the Bureau of Prisons to make all staff eligible for direct hiring.

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos and Ililnois' two US senators have also asked the bureau to move Thomson employees to the higher-paying, Chicago region.

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