Agreement Would Raise Prison Pay 40 Percent

Nov. 10, 2021, midnight ·

The Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln
The Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Bill Kelly, Nebraska Public Media News)

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Gov. Pete Ricketts Wednesday announced a tentative agreement with a union representing prison workers that calls for a 40 percent increase in base pay.

Nebraska’s prison workforce has been experiencing what Corrections Director Scott Frakes calls a “crisis,” with hundreds of jobs vacant and a high turnover rate. Among the problems has been pay for security personnel, which is lower than for people working in jails in Lincoln and Omaha.

Under the tentative agreement announced Wednesday with the Fraternal Order of Police, new corporals, or prison guards, who are now paid $20 an hour, would see an increase to $28 an hour, a 40 percent increase. Overtime pay would also be increased to two times regular pay.

In his news release making the announcement, Ricketts called it an “historic agreement.” Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Chipman said the new agreement means Nebraska will have the third-highest paid prison staff in the country, declaring “That staffing crisis changes now.” And Frakes said “My staff work long hours with some of the most dangerous people alive, and they deserve pay that recognizes how important their work is for public safety.”

The agreement is contingent on a ratification vote by members of the Fraternal Order of Police. Calls to the governor’s office asking how much the agreement would cost were not immediately answered.