Disabled Workers May Be Without Job In State Prison Fight

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A debate over who should help clean state prisons is heating and it’s pitting disabled workers against a powerful state union.

That’s why Anthony Grandon was at the state Capitol making an emotional plea to save his job Wednesday before a budget committee.

 

“I don’t know what would happen to me I really don’t,” Grandon said if he lost his job.

He’s one of 239 Pride Industries employees who perform custodial work at the state prison healthcare facility in Stockton.

The nonprofit hires people with disabilities.

“Some of us we might have developmental disabilities that we’ve had since childhood,” he said.

Many of whom would be lost without this opportunity.

“I couldn’t find jobs anywhere and I applied for hundreds of them,” he said at 28 years old.

But now the state corrections department is considering a change.

The initial contract with Pride was signed three years ago under emergency circumstances due to sanitary concerns, but now the governor’s office says continuing it violates a law banning private contractors from performing jobs that could be done by state workers and the state could be sued by the union.

“The union is saying they should be civil service jobs,” said Don Nelson with Pride Industries.

That means Anthony and his co-workers would likely lose their jobs to state workers.

“They would have a hard time passing a civil service exam,” Nelson said.

“Even if I did get a job it would just be a struggle because they do not provide the same services that PRIDE provides,” Grandon said.

Current workers are calling on lawmakers to reverse the decision fearing what’s at stake.

“A lot of us would end up either going back on welfare or even worse become homeless,” Grandon said.

“They’ve done a great job out there and they deserve to keep doing it,” Nelson added.

Pride, the nonprofit, said the state saves money by keeping its contract.

However, the governor’s office has recommended spending more than $8 million to transition to state workers.

Lawmakers have rejected that and want to study the issue and try and reach a compromise.