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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Employees picket federal prison

  • Citing concerns about staff shortages, employees of the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth and others participated in an informational picket Tuesday in front of the federal prison.
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  • Citing concerns about staff shortages, employees of the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth and others participated in an informational picket Tuesday in front of the federal prison.
    "They keep vacating posts," Jennifer Gum said.
    Gum is not a USP employee, but her husband is president of Local 919 of the American Federation of Government Employees, a union that represents prison employees.
    Gum argued that USP doesn't have staff to maintain all its necessary posts, and prison administration doesn't want to pay overtime to employees.
    Lynn Looney, a retired USP employee and union steward, accused Warden Claude Maye of trying to cut critical positions.
    Looney also claimed that because of staff shortages the prison isn't following through with protocols for dealing with inmates who are caught smuggling drugs into the institution or in possession of homemade weapons.
    "These things are not right," he said. "They have to be addressed."
    USP Public Information Officer Treavor Kroger said the institution has been repositioning staff to utilize employees where they're more readily needed in the prison.
    "We're not reducing staff," he said.
    By repositioning staff, the prison is being responsible with taxpayer dollars, Kroger said.
    He said the prison currently has 360 employees and an inmate population of 2,094.
    Kroger said policy dictates what happens when inmates are caught with drugs or weapons, and the prison is following policies.
    Looney said most participants in Tuesday's informational picket were members of Local 919, but there were people who traveled from out of state to participate.
    He said there was national representation from AFGE and a regional vice president of the Council of Prison Locals also was on hand.
    Kroger said he did not know if the warden met with picketers Tuesday, but Maye has an open door policy and is available to the local union on a regular basis.

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