MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — FFC Hazelton’s union, Local 420 American Federation of Government Employees, staged an informational picket in Morgantown on Friday.
The picket took place right off of Interstate 68’s exit 7 with FCC Hazelton’s union employees in attendance from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The picket’s purpose was to bring awareness to the public of the facility’s severe staffing shortage.
President of FCC Hazelton’s Local 420 American Federation of Government Employees, Justin Tarkovsky, spoke with 12 News about how the lack of help is weighing in on current employees.
“If you can imagine, being mandated four to five times a week, you come in to do your eight hours and you’re stuck to do an additional eight, your family life starts to deteriorate. There’s actually studies on being forced overtime. It’s almost like being impaired, drunk on the road, you start to deteriorate. How can you perform your job when you’re making officers do this every single day,” said Tarkovsky.
Recently FCC Hazelton held a job fair in Mylan Park’s Monongalia County Center to which Tarkovsky said about 60 people applied. Of those 60, only a handful were selected to be hired as the majority’s applications were discarded for “clerical errors” according to Tarkovsky.
FCC Hazelton’s Local 420 American Federation of Government Employees picket gained the attention of not only those who passed by but of other FCCs across the country. Joe Rojas, union president of FCC Coleman in Sumter County, Florida traveled to Morgantown to stand in solidarity with his “brothers and sisters” on Friday.
Rojas also spoke with 12 News and shared some of his experiences with lack of employees in a facility that holds more than 8,000 people.
“We’ve had assaults, we had lockdowns, inmate-on-inmate crime. On Father’s Day, we were so short, we had to lock everything down—the whole institution. We have over 8,500 inmates, no Father’s Day visits. Of course when you lock it down, the anxiety goes up, which causes anger and the first people they take it out on is our officers, our GS5 G6 officers,” said Rojas.
Union employees from FCC Hazelton are encouraging the public to help by reaching out congressionally and getting in contact with state politicians in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland as FCC Hazelton is located in the tri-state area.
This picket comes after West Virginia’s Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and Sen. Joe Manchin were among a group of senators who sent a letter to federal officials regarding abuse, escapes and other misconduct allegedly happening at FCC Hazelton.