The union representing federal prison workers in Hawaii join protests against President Joe Biden’s executive order for Mandatory Vaccines for the COVID pandemic.
It does allow exceptions due to legitimate medical or religious issues.
Michael Meserve, president, American Federation of Government Employees, local 1218, Council of Prison Locals brings attention to staffing shortages, safety concerns and alternatives to the vaccine mandate for all federal workers locally and countrywide according to Peter Boyan, Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Meserve said, “Several un-vaccinated staff have approached me with serious concerns about being disciplined and/or removed from service by the Agency. Some of those employees are talking about retiring earlier than planned, or resigning if retirement isn’t an option.”
Workers with the AFGE have planned picketing in Honolulu. As staff shortages are forcing non-officer employees, including cooks, teachers and nurses, to serve as correctional officers under a process called augmentation according to the AFGE, local 1218, CPL.
The BOP did not respond to the Hawaii about the protest, whether or not staffing was sufficient or correctional office recruitment issues. BOP operates 122 correctional institutions, including the Federal Detention Center Honolulu.
BOP maintains everyone working in a federal facility is a trained, sworn correctional worker, no matter what their position or job title. When they are hired they are expected to perform law enforcement functions, even teachers and counselors according to the AP.
Less then 14,000 of the 20,446 correctional officers positions budgeted for 2021 were filled and the conditions are “endangering the lives of employees and makes it harder to safely manage inmates,” according to the AFGE.