LOCAL NEWS

Operator of Tacoma ICE detention center ordered to pay $23.2 million over unfair labor practices

Nov 2, 2021, 5:17 PM | Updated: Nov 3, 2021, 8:06 am
northwest detention center...
The Northwest Detention Center is a privately run, federal detention center in Tacoma. (Nicole Jennings, KIRO Radio)
(Nicole Jennings, KIRO Radio)

The company in charge of operating a Tacoma ICE detention center will have to pay out $23.2 million, stemming from a lawsuit over the facility’s alleged unfair labor practices.

ICE offers rare tour of Tacoma immigration detention center

Nearly $6 million of that money will need to be surrendered by the GEO Group — which is contracted by ICE to run the facility — as “unjust enrichment.” Another $17.3 million will be paid to over 10,000 people detained there for back wages owed.

The lawsuit dates back to a complaint filed against the private contractor in 2017, claiming that it had been “unjustly enriching itself” on the labor of detainees, and pushing for detainees to be paid minimum wage for work performed at the facility. Previously, they had been paid $1 a day for cooking, cleaning, and laundry services, despite minimum wage at the time being $12 an hour.

The Tacoma facility is Washington’s only private detention center, having been at the center of more than one controversy in recent years. That includes an incident in April 2020, where 50 inmates at the facility participated in a hunger strike, spelling out the letters “SOS” in the yard of the detention center with their bodies. That marked the third hunger strike in as many weeks that month, including 300 people who participated during the first week of April.

The facility has also faced accusations of administering inadequate medical care, and keeping detainees in solitary confinement for inappropriately long periods of time.

Tuesday’s ruling was lauded as “a landmark victory for workers’ rights and basic human dignity” by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. It also marks the first time a state has sued a for-profit prison for failing to pay minimum wage for inmate labor.

Earlier in 2021, state lawmakers passed a measure formally banning private prisons, specifically targeting the Tacoma facility for closure. The bill allows the facility to remain open through the end of its contract with ICE, which expires in 2025.

State passes bill aimed at shutting down Tacoma ICE detention center

That saw the facility’s private contractor file a lawsuit against the state last spring, alleging that the newly-passed bill conflicts with the federal government’s “detention efforts within Washington’s borders.”

Local News

rain...
Weather Anchor Frankie Katafias, KIRO 7 News and KIRO 7 News Staff

Light snow continues to fall in some parts of Western Washington, but get ready for the rain

After Saturday’s high temperatures in the mid-to-low 40′s, much of the snow that hit the Puget Sound area has melted.
7 hours ago
concede...
Associated Press

GOP’s Joe Kent contests results of Washington state race

Republican Joe Kent's campaign said Friday it intends to request a machine ballot recount of the counties within southwest Washington state's 3rd Congressional District.
7 hours ago
Photo from KIRO 7...
Graham Johnson, KIRO 7 News

Vasectomy demand increases after abortion ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling removing the national right to abortion led Evan Pulgino of Seattle to make a decision
7 hours ago
schools...
L.B. Gilbert

Puyallup Schools closed, others delayed as snow melt makes roads dangerous

The Puyallup School district says it's canceling classes for all schools Monday because the roads are expected to be dangerous during the morning commute.
7 hours ago
Gavel...
Associated Press

Case against man arrested in 1994 death of woman dismissed

Criminal charges against a man suspected in the 1994 murder of a Vancouver, Washington, woman have been dismissed.
7 hours ago
I-90 Pileup...
Bill Kaczaraba

I-90 near Easton is open in both directions following a 15-car crash

I-90 eastbound near Easton has been closed due to a 15-car collision, the Washington Department of Transportation reported late today.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Operator of Tacoma ICE detention center ordered to pay $23.2 million over unfair labor practices