MCO has had many victories in our 50 years, but none of them came easy. We had to fight to get testing and equipment to protect against communicable disease and supplemental benefits for injuries sustained in our dangerous workplaces. In recent times, we’ve had to fight for uniform guidelines for dignity assaults and raise our voice in opposition to the Michigan Civil Service Commission’s rule changes. Below are summaries of our biggest advocacy fights today for corrections officers and forensic security assistants.
Our resolve to keep fighting for our livelihood, safety, and recognition as professionals must remain strong, especially in light of recent attacks on unions, such as Right to Work and the Michigan Civil Service rule changes.
Join MCO in our fights for corrections and forensic officers’ safety at work and well-being at home and in their communities.
This union was founded to address the safety of corrections staff and the security of Michigan prisons, and we continue to push for more safe and secure facilities.
Michigan and many states are experiencing an officer recruitment and retention crisis. MCO has actively tried to work with the MDOC to find solutions. That's our number one safety concern at this time.
Thanks to MCO’s advocacy, a package of bills that make it illegal to fly drones near a prison because of the safety threat they pose was passed by the governor.
MCO is calling for legislation that would allow COs to carry life-saving drugs such as naloxone, an opioid antagonist. Corrections staff have found potent opioids like fentanyl and suboxone during shakedowns and other routine duties. As first responders grappling with a surge in opioid use, this tool is necessary to save the lives of those incarcerated and officers.
Corrections staff are experiencing an epidemic of PTSD. Since 2015, at least nine Michigan COs have taken their own life. This means the rate of suicide among Michigan COs is higher than the general population.
In 2016, a survey conducted by Dessert Waters Correctional Outreach found 34% of MCO members suffer from PTSD and about 5% were at a high risk of suicide.
MCO has led a crusade within the State of Michigan to educate the public and legislature about the pervasiveness of Post -Traumatic Stress within the MDOC. Thanks to our efforts, we are starting to see more attention on this topic. The MDOC established an EPIC team on Employee Wellness, which includes MCO Executive Board Member Marcus Collins.
MCO lobbied for $50,000 to be included in the MDOC FY '19 budget for studying PTSD among staff.
Now, we're working with the Michigan Senate on a bill that would establish a Suicide Prevention Committee. MCO advocated for a corrections officer to be added to this committee. PTSD and suicide among COs is a crisis, so we are pushing the legislature to prioritize this bill.
In September 2017, the Michigan Civil Service Commission (MCSC) changed a number of rules and now prohibit us from bargaining shift transfers, overtime assignments and positions, and layoff and recall procedures. These changes removed several important provisions from our contract and put them under the discretion of the MDOC and MDHHS. These changes went into effect Jan. 1, 2019.
MCO members joined together instead of letting these changes divide us. Together, we were able to convince the MDOC to write policies that are familiar, transparent and fair.
Read about our advocacy on this issue at mco-seiu.org/civilservice.
Corrections officers are an integral part of the criminal justice system. Although often unacknowledged and underappreciated, they are a humane and constant force in correctional facilities. They aren’t guards; they're corrections professionals expected to do so much more. With the onset of corrections reform, their responsibilities continue to grow.
Through our Move Forward campaign, we highlighted the values of corrections staff as part of law enforcement and made accompanying posters for each prison. Integrity, Honor, Sacrifice, and Community are just a few of the values that officers said guide them in their work.
MCO is constantly advocating for legislation, workplace policy, and other guidelines that recognize officers as the professionals they are.
Profit should not be a motive when it comes to incarceration. Since the beginning of our union, MCO has stood opposed to prison privatization and the privatization of any prison services, such as food service.
Under private food contracts with two vendors, inmates were given small quantities of subpar food. Food service employees were not adequately trained on the realities of working inside of a prison. All of this created instability in the safety of Michigan prisons. Food complaints were just one of the underlying factors that led to a riot at Kinross Correctional Facility in 2016.
MCO’s tireless advocacy played a part in the return of food service to state operation in 2018.
MCO has fought back efforts of private prison companies in our state and we will continue to lead this charge to protect corrections staff, the incarcerated, and Michigan taxpayers.