MARYSVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — Employees at a women’s prison in Marysville plan to protest working conditions within the facility.
Unionized workers at the Ohio Reformatory for Women announced they will assemble picket lines outside the correctional facility on Monday in protest of what they called subpar working conditions — including understaffing, retention issues and excessive overtime — that have “plagued” the prison, according to a news release from the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, a union that represents ORW workers.
“The lack of respect for front line custody staff and the lack of any work/life balance is just pushing staff out,” union president and ORW correction officer Tom Holden said in a statement.
The OCSEA said it’s common for employees to work four or five days of “back-to-back overtime every single week,” and there is little room for workers to move to other positions, as ORW management reportedly prohibits it.
The “worst part,” OCSEA said, is that the prison’s management reportedly refuses to work with union leadership to address working conditions within the facility, prompting workers to walk “out the door left and right,” Holden said.
“Basically, they are holding us hostage because they refuse to sit down with us to fix the problem,” Holden said, encouraging members and supporters to join him on the picket line.
A spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, which oversees the ORW, said the prison’s warden “regularly meets with union leadership” to discuss issues like working conditions.
The ODRC is actively participating in recruitment efforts to address staff shortages, the spokesperson said, and has implemented a number of changes — including increased wages, an additional $50 per overtime shift, and food and lodging for those working double shifts — “to help ease some of those hardships” for staff.
“Director Chambers-Smith recognizes the difficult jobs the staff are tasked with each day. Our staff continue to come to work each day and work towards a common goal of operating safe prisons as one team with one purpose,” the ODRC spokesperson said.
Open since 1916, the Marysville prison employs 504 staff members who oversee nearly 2,500 people incarcerated, according to its website.
The union is expected to picket outside the prison at 1479 Collins Ave. from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday.