Letter: Chesco corrections officers deserve better pay

To The Editor:

Letters1Is your health and safety worth more than $34,000 per year? What about the health and safety of your children? Your family? Your neighbors? Your community?

Does our community think that a human life is worth more than $34,000?

That number, $34,000, is the starting salary of a Chester County Correctional Officer (CO). In one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, does this annual salary indicate that we value our health and safety and the lives of those who keep us safe?

Being a correctional officer is a very dangerous job. What type of salary and benefits would you expect when you go to work every day knowing that there is a real threat to your safety and possibly your life? Shouldn’t those who assume such a risk to keep our community safe make a salary capable of supporting their families?

In Chester County, $34,000 is not a living wage. According to MIT, the living wage for a family of four in Chester County is $50,128. According to the Census Bureau, the median per capita income is $42,322. It is indefensible that we pay those who risk their safety for our benefit over 32% BELOW the living wage, and nearly 20% BELOW the median per capita income for our community.

To make matters worse, Chester County COs are among the lowest paid in the region. Correctional Officers in Dauphin, York, Berks and Perry Counties are paid nearly 24% MORE on average than their colleagues in Chester County. Why? Because they all fall under collective bargaining agreements with the Teamsters, the fastest growing law enforcement union in Pennsylvania.

If we continue to undervalue our Correctional Officers, Chester County will become nothing more than a training ground for other counties who offer fair compensation. This is a poor investment of our tax dollars.

Montgomery County COs now have a contract that has substantially improved their quality of life, respects the community’s values and works within the budgetary framework of the County. In addition, those COs, their union representatives, prison administrators and County leadership have an excellent relationship that works to benefit everyone involved, including the taxpayers.

By failing to properly compensate our COs we are risking our health and safety, investing taxpayer money poorly, and shortchanging the values of our community.

I challenge the Chester County Correctional Officers to stand up for themselves, and I encourage the community to stand with them. We all deserve better.

Chris O’Donnell, Organizer/Chester County Resident

Teamsters Local Union 384

Norristown, PA

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment