Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Should Hazard Pay Be Reinstated at Jail?

On Thursday, I told you that Northampton County's jail is effectively in lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nobody may leave his or her cell, except for showers, and must be masked at all times. Fortunately, most of those who test positive are asymptomatic. 

Union President Kyle Schultz commented that there have been 35 positive Covid cases since November 1, although it's unclear whether he is talking about corrections officers or the entire jail.

On Monday, Executive Lamont McClure furnished  detailed breakdown of Covid-19 at the jail.

Head Count=513

Total Covid 19 Tests Conducted=1,814

Total Positive Covid 19 Tests=128

Total Current Active Covid 19 Cases=26

Total Recovered Covd 19 Cases=102

Extended Furlough=30

 

There are currently 6 staff quarantining.

In view of the Covid-19 crisis at the jail, County Council should give serious consideration to reinstating hazard pay for all corrections officers. Executive McClure is unable to do this because he has surrendered his emergency powers. Council, however, could authorize him to discuss this with the union. It is my understanding that the union has just agreed to a contract extension. It is unclear whether there is any funding for this in the latest Covid-19 relief bill, but even a small payment from the general fund is better than nothing. Corrections officers at the jail have actually saved several lives since the onset of the pandemic and need to know they are appreciated.

23 comments:

Peterjcochran said...

Yes, that staff in there has exposure within the confines of restricted square footage and air flow. CDC guidelines are still to my knowledge, 15 minutes “daily weighted average “ with asymmetrical exposure. The inmates that return there don’t care about Corona exposure and violate distinct rules just like everything else they do.

Anonymous said...

NorCo guards do a good job, but they're already paid significantly more than correction officers in other counties. You say that it's your understanding that their contract has been extended, but you offer no details as to what the terms are.

I'm assuming that they didn't take a pay cut, as many in the private sector have had to over the last year, so how much appreciation do they need to be shown?

Right now there is large-scale unemployment and government-forced business closures across the country. That includes Northampton County, and means that the people paying the correction officers are struggling to pay the taxes that pay for the CO's and the rest of county government.

I don't think that taxpayers can afford to have county politicians grease another group of county workers with taxpayer money to buy votes in the next election.

Anonymous said...

I know where they can find a number of $750 checks that might be better used for those who want to stay safe.

Anonymous said...

McClure needs to go!

Anonymous said...

I’m growing tired throwing money at something to solve a problem (usually just creates more) or, as you argue in this case, show appreciation. My gosh, I am deemed an essential worker and don’t need anything more than my paycheck and job security. All the platitudes are nothing more than hollow praise.

Kyle said...

7:24am. As of our last contract an known to me. We are the 2nd lowest paid jail (at our level)in the state. Example Lehigh co. Are a mirror to us and are paid $2+ more than us. And before u say it benefits are also good.

Kyle said...

In regards to my #s , I stand by them and have paperwork to back them up. As to the jails inmate #s im not allowed to comment on security issues. But as a tax payer that also works here I'd love to know who gives Mr McClure these #s. I personally send weekly updates to HR. Along with requesting a meeting. I have yet to get a response.

Anonymous said...

If there are open positions at the jail, compensation should be reviewed. Whatever is being paid currently is delivering good personnel, as detailed several times this year on this blog. We're getting quality. If we're not getting sufficient quantity, then it needs a look.

Anonymous said...

The numbers may be correct, but you have to look at the entire compensation package Kyle. All Northampton County employees, including the CO's, have better benefits and pay a smaller contribution toward them than comparable Lehigh County employees.

Anonymous said...

Kyle -

Con you give us the terms (money, years, etc.) of the contract extension Bernie refers to?


Anon 10:11 -

Very well said.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am sorry but I do not have the precise terms of the two-year extension.

Anonymous said...

This is what 'stimulus packages' are made for! To take care of our own citizens, working people and our economy! Most workers who have never missed a paycheck through this pandemic realize how grateful they are. It is true that workers in a jail, hospital, nursing home, etc, and first responders should get some type of hazard pay. They are on the front line!! THIS IS WHAT A STIMULUS PACKAGE SHOULD BE FOR! OUR OWN!

Kyle said...

We settled on a 2yr extension. Two and a half % in 2021. And a step or if your at top $1750 In 2022. Also no other changes. We all felt with everything going on it was fair for all parties involved. Note it still needs to go to council for approval.

Anonymous said...

May I ask Kyle, what is top rate of a C.O.? Not supervision

Anonymous said...

You shouldn't be asking about the top rate for Officers, rather the bottom/starting rate. We have over 200 Officers and roughly 20 of them are at the top rate, with close to 110 still sitting at the starting rate. The county has been quite reluctant to give the Officers steps on their payscale.

FYI:
Starting rate is $18.46/hr
Top rate is $29.15/hr

John said...

You shouldn't be asking about the top rate for Officers, rather the bottom/starting rate. We have over 200 Officers and roughly 20 of them are at the top rate, with close to 110 still sitting at the starting rate. The county has been quite reluctant to give the Officers steps on their payscale.

FYI:
Starting rate is $18.46/hr
Top rate is $29.15/hr

Anonymous said...

How can they not be given step raises? $18.46? UNREAL

Anonymous said...

I am recently retired from the state. I held various titles in both corrections and parole, and I started my career as a CO. The term "hazardous pay" is an oxymoron since the job is always hazardous. I've had urine and feces thrown on me, been assaulted a few times over years, both inside and outside the institution. The job isn't for everyone. Having said that, this is what we sign up for. Nobody could anticipate COVID. It's hardest for our medical people and our jail people. As always, the corrections folks generally do not get the same attention as everyone else. 24/7 365 staff are inside the walls dealing with the most difficult people in society. They don't get a lot of publicity, but these people serve us well. They're unsung heroes IMO.

I am familiar with all the area county jails,and I can tell you that NCP officers are among the lower paid officers. Go look at Berks county, see what they make, even Monroe county guys/girls are making what NCP are making. If you have 110 officers at the low end of the pay scale, that tells me they have turnover problem. I also think they're a little top heavy, too many admin folks, but that's just an opinion based on my sporadic business contact with the jail over the years. Having said that, it is true that we are in tough times, the people that pay the salaries are hurting, so the contract extension was fair IMO.

For those being critical of the pay and benefits, they're always hiring, 18 bucks an hour to start to deal with the robbers, rapists, murderers, mental health folks etc. The local warehouse jobs start at more than that these days folks.

Anonymous said...

Let's back this up a little. How about when the original hazard pay was given, does everyone know that six employees at the prison were denied hazard pay yet two part time employees received it, it was stated "they had to draw the line somewhere". Those six were deemed essential, not all of them were able to work from home and still had to walk through the jail to do their job.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Clerical do not need it

Anonymous said...

Really? But the two part time clerical did need it?

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's my point. Clerical do not need hazard pay except at Gracedale, where the risk of spread is so high.

Anonymous said...

What actually is your point exactly? It’s funny those employees have no risk... yet qualified to get the vaccine like the rest of the DOC did.. when is the last time you were inside that jail? My guess is it’s been a long, long time. Stop listening to what the “high ups” TELL YOU. Listen to the people who are actually working inside. Everything is shared and cross contaminated. But, those 6 employees have absolutely no risk compared to the rest of the staff. That doesn’t even logically make sense. But what was your point again?