The state Department of Corrections gave at least eight high-level workers up to 15% in pay increases over the past year, including four who collected three raises or bonuses in six months.
The significant raises for the prison psychologists were among those uncovered in a new review of salary increases in the state prisons agency by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In some cases, those raises were simply given for switching from one work location to another, a tactic aimed at stemming a loss in experienced psychologists, a spokeswoman said.
Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has repeatedly made such transfers to evade state rules limiting workers’ pay increases, including eight wardens who received up to 13% raises for switching from one prison to another. The raises for a number of top officials within the prisons department contrast with those given to rank-and-file guards, whose take-home pay is still down sharply since 2010.
Marty Beil, a union leader who has worked with corrections employees for decades, said the raises technically satisfied state rules but wouldn’t sit well with the front-line officers guarding inmates.
“In the past, we never saw these kinds of games played,” Beil said. “Corrections officers see their warden getting a 13% raise and they wonder, ‘Why can’t I have that?'”
The practice of rewarding management while taking more and more money out of the pockets of rank and file employees is nothing new for the Department of Corrections under Walker appointee Ed Wall, and so this latest news should not surprise anyone.