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GEO guards picket at South Texas Detention Center

The GEO Group's South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall was hit with protests by guards at the facility last week.  According to KSAT's coverage ("Pearsall Prison Guards Stage Picket," May 26), about 25 prison guards picketed the facility:

Many of [the protestors] are members of Local 304, a labor union which represents some prison guards and police officers.

"This is not a strike. It's a picket," said Officer Tim Stone, a spokesman for the group. "We have not had a (significant) raise in six years and we feel we deserve one."

Stone, however, did say his employer has given workers a 50 cent per hour cost of living increase on occasion.  In the latest contract being negotiated, Stone said, there is no wage increase at all.

Similar labor tensions have occurred in the past, with GEO narrowly averting a strike two years ago at the same facility. 

It should be noted that the Pearsall facility is one of the few private detention or corrections facilities with a strong union presence.  Wages in private faciltiies tend to be substantially lower than in comparable public facilities, and guard turnover rates tend to be correspondingly higher.

See our previous coverage of the South Texas Detention Facility: