NY correctional officers calling for more worker protections

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New York’s correctional officers are currently at an impasse and have yet to agree to contract with the state.

Hundreds from across the state made the trip to Albany to say it’s about time they get what they deserve.

Outside the New York Capitol, it was quite the sight as nearly 500 correctional officers stood saying they have a message for the legislature and specifically Governor Andrew Cuomo. They demand respect and it starts Monday with a simple plastic bag.

“It’s a thing of trust,” Donald Hazard, a correction officer in Buffalo, said.

Starting on Monday, Hazard and his fellow officers must use this clear bag if they want to bring lunch into any of the state’s correctional facilities.

“We’re vetted to do our jobs, to be trusted to do our jobs, so trust us to do our jobs.”

Hazard, along with about 300 co-workers, made the trip to Albany in hopes of convincing lawmakers to make changes.

“These folks are allowed to carry guns, what’s the point of having to limit them to a plastic bag like that, it just seems ridiculous,” Senator John Flanagan said.

Senators Flanagan and pam helming say they’re standing by the officers.

“To me, that means, send the right message. Recently when I toured one of the facilities, I was shown that some of our prisoners are receiving flat screen TV’s, others personal notebooks, like Chrome Books, iPads, that sort of thing,” Senator Helming said.

The union executive vice president says this is not a hold out from more money, but more staff and protection.

“NYSCOBA has been requesting a meeting with Governor Cuomo for over two years and it’s fallen on deaf ears,” Tammy Sawchuck, Executive Vice President at NYSCOBA, said.

Sawchuck says assaults on staff and prisoner on prisoner violence is up now from last year and up 61 percent over the last five years.

“We don’t know how it can be stopped, but we need to sit down at the table,” Sawchuck said. “We need to find a solution to this escalating violence. By not having the conversation and remaining silent, we will not fix the issues.”

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