IN SUPPORT OF A DECENT LIVING WAGE FOR OUR CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the Chester County Prison, from the Management to the Correctional Officers, for their dedication and service to our community. As a past Chester County Correctional Officer and Counselor, I can personally attest to the challenges, both physically and mentally, our Officers and Staff have to face day in and day out with little recognition or thanks. They not only deserve thanks, they deserve to be fairly compensated for doing a difficult and often dangerous job. Unfortunately, Chester County politics has prevented our Correctional Officers from getting the compensation they deserve. The starting salary of a Chester County Correctional Officer is just $34,000. This salary is significantly below a Chester County living wage in addition to being substantially lower than what Correctional Officers, all represented by the Teamsters, earn in neighboring counties. In York County, the starting salary for a Correctional Officer is $46,800 – Dauphin $43,400, Berks $39,900 and Perry $38,100. All of these counties have significantly lower cost of living and median household incomes than Chester County. In fact, Chester County is the wealthiest county in the Commonwealth and it just celebrated ten years of a AAA bond rating. Yet, for years our Officers have been paid less. With these opportunities so nearby it is no wonder that we have a continual turnover and shortage of well trained and experienced Officers who leave our County to find a decent living wage. Our Officers put their safety on the line every day dealing with the most difficult and dangerous people who reside or have passed through our community. They have families, and bills, and dreams of a bright future for their children just like all of us. To compensate our Correctional Officers so stingily is embarrassing and inexcusable. In 2015, the Montgomery County Correctional Officers chose representation through Teamsters Local 384. The outcome was an increase in pay of 16%-25%, a strong relationship with prison administration and continued fiscal responsibility by Montgomery County. With this in mind I support our Correctional Officers fight for a decent living wage they deserve by choosing union representation. Sincerely, Chris Pielli, Esq.