Disabled Contractors Can Keep California Prison Jobs Despite SEIU Complaint
The Sacramento Bee – About 120 disabled employees working at a state prison will be able to keep their jobs despite an outsourcing complaint from state government’s largest union that threatened their company’s contract.
PRIDE Industries, the contractor that employs the disabled workers, struck a compromise in the state budget that allows about half of its 217 employees at the California Health Care Facility in Stockton to continue working there. The rest of the janitorial jobs at the prison will become available as civil service positions.
The deal undoes part of an agreement that Service Employees International Union Local 1000 had reached with Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration to gradually phase out the PRIDE contract and hire state workers to provide janitorial services at the prison.
SEIU 1000 did not oppose finding civil service jobs for the PRIDE workers at the prison, but neither the union nor the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation could guarantee that the disabled employees would be hired.
PRIDE visited the Capitol several times over the past month, where they met with lawmakers and talked with reporters about how they struggled to find work until they joined the Roseville-based organization that provides job opportunities to disabled people. “I would like to thank all of you at the state Capitol for helping us keep our jobs here at CHCF,” PRIDE employee Anthony Grandon wrote in a message to The Sacramento Bee. “My coworkers and I are grateful that we still have our jobs here.”
PRIDE went to work at the Stockton prison in 2016 after an audit concluded that sanitation was an urgent problem at a facility that houses ill inmates. SEIU 1000, which represents state custodians, successfully contested the contract, arguing that it violated protections against government outsourcing.
Republican lawmakers repeatedly spoke up for PRIDE in recent weeks. One of them, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley of Rocklin, tried to void the compromise in the waning moments of a four-hour budget conference committee hearing Friday night.
“It’s quite shocking that we’d entertain the idea of replacing these folks with a politically favored interest group,” he said. His measure to keep all of the jobs with PRIDE failed.
The new agreement in the budget is meant to ensure that PRIDE’s disabled employees can keep their jobs, according to Brown’s Department of Finance.
“We are happy the budget committee took into consideration the certain loss of jobs for people with disabilities if PRIDE were to be let go completely,” PRIDE Vice President Don Nelson said, adding that the company would look for opportunities to work with state government.