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C.A.P.P. Webmaster's preamble to Corrections USA Position Paper

It is important to remember the makeup of the Citizens Against Private Prisons as well as the mandate of it's website. C.A.P.P. membership in Ontario and elsewhere for that matter is comprised of correctional and social service professionals both worker and management, political leaders, community leaders, and most importantly ordinary citizens. What would unite such a diverse group in opposition to government policy and practice in an area of responsibility that most of society chooses to ignore? Prisons for Profit compromise not only public safety, but the safety of the men and women in the correctional profession and the individuals incarcerated. It also contradicts the fundamental philosophy behind incarceration in modern society, rehabilitation. In Ontario it still has not been substantiated that the primary reason given for privatization, economic savings, is actually occurring. There are growing indications that the opposite is true.

The mandate of this website is informational. That is to say while opposition to prisons for profit is foremost, an attempt to remain neutral and provide the many diverse perspectives of opposition to privatization is an important consideration. Having said that, while it is not the mandate of this website to actively support any particular perspective we applaud Corrections USA for having the courage to tackle this contentious and potentially divisive issue. Make no mistake, opposition to prisons for profit is not the hidden agenda of any one interest group. We all share the same common goal, a safe society as well as a safe and secure work and living environment in our correctional facilities.

Organizing Private Guards - A Corrections USA Draft Position Paper

Corrections USA is not a union, however 37 of our 41 organizational members are. Many are AFL affiliated but most are independent unions. We are aware of numerous national unions in the United States and now in Canada, who support the idea of organizing private prison guards. Make no mistake, CUSA is very pro-union as our organizational make-up indicates, however we believe that by organizing private prison employees, unions legitimize an illegitimate industry. Unions strive for, good jobs, security, decent wages, enhanced benefits, living wage retirement plans, health care, safe working environments and fair contract negotiations. None of those are standards in the private prison industry.

A union's first priority is its members job security. Without the company staying in business there is no paycheck, there are no union dues, and there is no union. Consequently it is in the union's best interest, and the best interest of its members, for that business to not only survive but to thrive, grow and prosper. How then does a union, which states a goal to stop prison privatization, organize private prison guards? If your first priority is the job security of your members, how can you also be against the very existence of their jobs? A union claiming to be against private prisons while organizing private prison employee's is at the very least disingenuous. Their priority has become their own self-existence. The opportunity for growth through additional dues generated by a new revenue source is apparently too much to resist when compared to upholding professional safety and correctional standards. Unfortunately maintaining security and upholding standards doesn't generate much money.

In the United States we have laws mandating that in many instances unions must adhere to a "Duty of Fair Representation" standard with its members. We believe that ethically, morally, and legally that duty extends to securing their members jobs, not eliminating them. How then does organizing private prison employees fit into the matrix of an anti-prison privatization philosophy? It doesn't. If a union organizes employees in a private prison, they must then fight to protect those jobs. We view any union that seeks to represent private prison employees as pro-private prison. However, we do not hold locals of national organizations responsible for the actions of their affiliates, only for the specific actions they are engaged in. We provide locals with information to inform their national in the hopes of making change.

We will continue to attempt to educate and seek change through dialog, but when an organization, any organization, sides with the private prison industry we will not sit quietly by. Organizing private prison guards is a money grab. It's the selling of the profession for the dues dollar. A Private prisons mission is to make a profit, it is not about public safety, and virtually all of that profit comes at expense of the employee. The way to fight private prisons is to expose them - not to legitimize them; it's to shadow them and report on their every move - not to eat with them at the employee picnic; it's to bring light to murders, rapes, assaults, turnover rates and escapes and to reveal failed promises it's not sitting across from them at the negotiating table; it's organizing a march in moral indignation at the very existence of for profit incarceration not organizing private prison employees and legitimizing an industry that wants to lower the bar at every turn.

If a union states they are against prison privatization, what do they tell private prison employees at an organizing drive; come join us we want to put your boss out of business and cost you your job? Unions are about job security, once they represent employees at any job site it behooves them to keep that job site up and running. You can't have it both ways, you cannot be against private prisons yet organize them and work to secure private prison employees jobs. For an organization to profess otherwise only serves to illuminate their ignorance about our level of professionalism and the jobs we do. It also says a great deal about what's more important to the union, the correctional officer profession or the dues dollar.

In Corrections today prison privatization is the greatest threat to the safety of our communities. Private prisons cut corners on equipment, on safety, on training, on staffing. Their assault, turnover and escape rates are far higher than in public facilities. They endanger anyone working in them, anyone living near a private prison, and anyone sentenced to one. If a union official really wants to help the private prison employees they will put their money into doing everything they can to shut private prisons down before more employees get assaulted and killed. They will also distribute job applications for a real law enforcement job as a professional Correctional Officer.




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