State Axing 30 more jobs in Prison StoresState axing 30 jobs in Michigan prison stores
About 30 state prison workers have been told they will lose their jobs as the state eliminates regional prison stores in Ionia, Jackson and the Upper Peninsula.
The state is expanding a system under which prisoners purchase toiletries and other items through electronic kiosks and a vendor sends the goods to the prisoners through secure packages, Corrections Department spokeswoman Holly Kramer said Tuesday.
The vendor, the Missouri-based Keefe Group, now sends requested items to regional stores/warehouses at Parnall Correctional Facility near Jackson, the former Riverside Correctional Facility in Ionia, and the Kinross Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula, Kramer said.
There, the orders are sorted, packaged and distributed to prisons around the state.
Under a new three-year contract with Keefe, the regional stores, which are staffed by state workers, will be closed, she said. Keefe will package the store items and send them directly to where the prisoners are housed.
"While their current positions will be eliminated, most employees will have the opportunity to continue working with the department in other capacities as they fill other operational vacancies, consistent with Civil Service Commission Rules and their collective-bargaining agreement," Kramer said.
The cost of both the former contract and the new one is covered by surcharges assessed on prisoner purchases, so there is no estimated cost savings for the state, she said. Because eliminating the state jobs will reduce the overall cost of the purchasing system, a likely result is a higher balance in the Prisoner Benefit Fund, which gets money from the surcharge on prisoner purchases, and is used to pay for recreational items such as gym equipment, she said.
A 90-day transition period will begin as soon as the new contract is signed, which is expected to happen soon, she said.
The employees are represented by the Michigan State Employees Association, which is part of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director for AFSCME Council 25, said the union has received a 30-day notice about potential layoffs and is seeking more detailed information. "We don't understand why we are engaging in additiional outsourcing, since the state (prisoner purchasing) operation now operates in the black," Ciaramitaro said.
The department assures MAGE that only a few supervisors will be affected and most of them will be placed in other positions, but we are awaiting further details from the Department. MAGE members affected by this should call the MAGE office at 1-800-477-6243 for assistance.