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GEO Guards Threaten to Strike in Pearsall

Months of negotiation seem to be at a stalemate in South Texas. Guards at the GEO owned South Texas Detention Complex are considering a strike after not achieving the pay raise they have asked for. According to local station News 4 WOAI (Private Prison Personnel Could Walk Off Job, January 14, 2009):

The union's chief negotiator Howard Johannssen says, "This employer refuses to give them a pay raise of any sort."

The pending strike is another example of the extra cost associated private prisons. According to news reports, if guards do strike the immigrant detainees held in the private prison lockup will be moved across the state at taxpayers' expenses. ICE issued a statement to News 4 WOAI that reads:

"Discussions are underway between the GEO Management staff at the South Texas Detention Complex (STDC) in Pearsall, Texas, and the union that represents its bargaining unit employees. GEO is under contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to operate and maintain STDC. The employees involved in these discussions are not employed by ICE or the Department of Homeland Security. ICE is not directly involved in these discussions. Any questions regarding specific issues under discussion should be directed to GEO or to its union."

"ICE is committed to ensuring that all ICE detainees — at the STDC and throughout the country — are maintained in a safe, secure and humane environment. Whatever the result of the ongoing discussions at STDC, ICE is prepared to respond appropriately to ensure the continuation of safe and secure operations at the facility."
"ICE encourages all the parties involved to continue their efforts to reach a fair and equitable agreement. However, it would be inappropriate for ICE to comment or speculate regarding hypothetical situations, especially while discussions and negotiations are underway.”

We will keep y'all posted as developments around this pending strike continue.

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