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Tamms: Illinois Judge Rules In Favor Of Union, State Appeals

Tamms Correctional Center

A southern Illinois judge decided in favor of a prison workers union on Wednesday and against the State of Illinois in the ongoing battle over facility closures.

That will keep the Tamms Supermax prison open for the foreseeable future.

Judge Charles Cavaness upheld an arbitrator’s findings that the state violated its contract with the union by moving to close facilities prior to the conclusion of impact bargaining.

The judge also found that closing corrections facilities would create an unsafe work environment in the state’s remaining prisons.

He ordered the state of Illinois to cease layoffs and continue the freeze on transferring inmates and youth from prisons and juvenile centers that are slated for closure, and sent the two parties back to the bargaining table.

AFSCME regional program director Eddie Caumiant says the ruling is a step in the right direction.

“The state, I believe, the reason they are appealing, is they feel they cannot, given this order, shut down any facilities currently. Nothing is certain with the Quinn administration, unfortunately,”Caumiant said. “We’ve seen them time and time again violate our union contract.”

Caumiant says the decision put the union one step closer to achieving what it wants.

“We want the department [to know] that this is a very dangerous and very serious series of event that they are about to trigger and that they should do everything with due deliberation and full regard to not only the union contract but the safety and health of employees and the inmates that are in their charge,” Caumiant said.

In a written statement, Illinois’ assistant budget director said forcing the state to staff empty or half-empty and unneeded prisons and juvenile facilities is costing Illinois taxpayers 7 million dollars a month.

Both sides will return to arbitration next Monday in Chicago.

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