Chieftain does a good job expaining dispute over salaries of Dept. of Corrections employees

The Pueblo Chieftain published a good article this morning making sense of an exchange of salvos between Republicans on one side and Democrats and state employees on the other. The Chieftain reported:

[A] July 19 letter, signed by all 17 Senate Republicans, says the state’s latest salary plan — due to be finalized Aug. 1 — wrongly implies that state [Department of Corrections] workers are underpaid and fails to point out they receive 33 percent more money than private prison workers.

The letter notes a recent study showing state prison employees average $51,357 a year while private prison staffers average $34,500. It also says DOC employees have other benefits, such as retirement, overtime and access to government vehicles.

The article, written by Peter Roper, is mostly behind the pay wall on the Chieftain’s website. It goes on to explain that Republican signees of the letter asked that the benefits of DOC workers be added to their average pay in the state salary plan. But Sen. Larry Crowder is quoted as saying that a pay cut for DOC workers based on this information might apply to future hires, not current employees.

The Chieftain reported that this year State Sen. Angela Giron pushed through a bill, which was opposed by most Republicans, granting overtime pay to DOC workers.  Giron was quoted as saying:

“As we’ve tragically seen, these officers put their lives on the line in our prisons,” she said Wednesday. “I don’t know why the Senate Republicans want them working for lower pay.”

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