Corrections officer pay increasing 15% as staffing shortages hit critical levels

Aug 11, 2022, 12:35 PM | Updated: Aug 12, 2022, 12:36 pm
corrections jail cell...
(Photo By Natalie Kolb/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)
(Photo By Natalie Kolb/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

King County Corrections needs to fill roughly 100 vacant positions. To incentivize new and lateral hires, the union which represents the agency has recently voted to approve a contract that will raise their hourly wage by a flat 15%.

The Corrections Guild’s contract expired in December 2021, and officers in jails and prisons in King County have been working without a contract since then. After more than 14 months of negotiations, they have announced that a new contract has been signed.

The 15% pay increase will bring the corrections officer’s hourly pay to a base level of $32.43 an hour in 2022, and over the next three years will raise the hourly base pay to $35.73.

In July, King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention was forced to shut down its booking area for more the eight hours, causing officers to have to either personally detain arrestees or release them pending charges, King County Corrections Guild president Dennis Folk said at the time.

“There’s nobody to take them,” the guild president explained. “Officers must ask themselves, ‘Am I going to sit with them (arrested suspects) until the next day or let them go?’ What happens to those 911 calls because (police officers) are sitting with someone in the station and they can’t get to the 911 call?”

Dori: Corrections president sounds alarm over Seattle’s King County jail overnight closure

According to the guild, union members “overwhelmingly ratified” the new contract. The newly signed contract will increase officer pay by 15% over the next three years, approves 2.25 times pay for overtime, and mandates the hiring of a staffing consultant to address understaffing.

Along with the new consultant position, the new contract introduces hiring incentives of up to $15,000 and 40 hours of vacation time to recruit officers from other corrections departments into a lateral change.

“We believe this new contract is a great first step in addressing the staffing crisis within the County jail system,” Folk said in a news release.

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Corrections officer pay increasing 15% as staffing shortages hit critical levels