Illinois Correctional Center Nurses Negotiating Wage Increase

More than 800 nurses, LPNs, CNAs, nurse practitioners, medical assistants, dental assistants, psychiatrists and mental health professionals working in adult correctional facilities across the state are currently negotiating wage increases with their private employer, Wexford.

Largely nurses, these AFSCME members fight hard to protect what they have and prevent the for-profit company from taking anything away from them.

It’s hard working for the “lowest bidder,” said AFSCME Local 494 member Kathy Kissiar, who has worked for nine different vendors in her career.

“I’ve been in the prison system for 28 years and it seems like every time we go to the bargaining table, we have to convince them again that we’re valuable—that we’re human beings doing an important job,” Kissiar said. “Their cuts seem to always be off the backs of the people who are doing this work.”

In 2017, the union members negotiated a new five-year contract—protecting the benefits they’ve gained over the years. Now they are negotiating another wage-increase.

Kissiar said that being an AFSCME member has made a world of difference in a hard job. The first ten years of her employment she didn’t have a union.

With the union came a new law that AFSCME successfully lobbied for—“the successorship clause means that whoever the vendor is, our union stays and we don’t miss a beat,” Kissiar said. “Before the union, we had no recourse for unfair treatment or terminations.”