Criminal Justice, Gold Dome, Original Report

State employees union drives hard at "low morale" in Dept of Corrections

After a recent shooting in Aurora which involved Department of Corrections (DOC) parole officers, the union of state employees (Colorado WINS) sent out a blistering email claiming morale is low because of routine mismanagement.

Addressed to parole officers, the email begins:

We are learning a lot about the management of your Division during this difficult time. In the aftermath of a traumatic incident involving two of your fellow CPOs on Monday, your management seized this opportunity to divide officers and undermine your solidarity.”

Later, the email says, “Morale among officers is low, pay isn’t competitive, case loads are up and so is micro-management from people who have never spent a day in your shoes.”

The email also claims that “(Deputy Director of Adult Parole) Allison Morgan lied about her conversation with our attorney and she lied about what services are available to Colorado WINS members.”

So, what conversation took place, and what “lies” allegedly were told?

DOC spokeswoman Adrienne Jacobson described the events that followed as such:

Our primary concern upon hearing the news of the incident was the well-being of the two staff directly involved. Ms. Morgan acted quickly to ensure that staff had appropriate representation throughout the investigation.

Director of Adult Parole Melissa Roberts was with Ms. Morgan when she contacted the WINS attorney regarding staff representation, and when she described the conversation to the Lincoln Street staff the following morning. Her summary of the conversation to staff was completely truthful and accurate.

The shooting in question happened on Monday, June 8. According to CBS 4, “A man was allegedly armed inside the apartment of a parolee when two Corrections officers came to that apartment on a home visit. The man — who was apparently visiting the parolee — then confronted the officers with a gun.” One of the parole officers shot the man who was then rushed to a hospital. Neither of the two parole officers were injured.

By attacking management, which “have never spent a day in your shoes,” the union is – if indirectly – attacking Governor Hickenlooper’s administration. However, the union endorsed Hickenlooper in the 2014 general election. Colorado WINS makes clear in the email they seek to represent corrections employees, but there’s a political risk to making unfounded or overreaching attacks. If Colorado WINS were to use a shooting incident to make overtly political gains in membership, the solicitations could seem crass and opportunistic, and could potentially backfire.

In March, Complete Colorado reported that the most recently hired Parole Director had quit after less than one year on the job to take a 13 percent pay cut for a different position in Illinois. At the time, DOC spokeswoman Adrienne Jacobson denied there were any morale problems.

An email request for comment to Tim Markum, Executive Director of Colorado WINS, has not yet been returned.

The full text of the email is republished below.

Parole Officers,

We are learning a lot about the management of your Division during this difficult time. In the aftermath of a traumatic incident involving two of your fellow CPOs on Monday, your management seized this opportunity to divide officers and undermine your solidarity.

Let me be very clear, Allison Morgan lied about her conversation with our attorney and she lied about what services are available to Colorado WINS members.  

If you are a Colorado WINS member in good standing you have access not only to our in-house legal team that deals with employment matters but also to criminal and civil defense attorneys through PORAC insurance. Your membership in PORAC  is part of your WINS membership for no additional cost or charge.

This is simply another example in a growing line of, at best, indifference from the Division towards Parole Officers. It was just a few weeks ago that Allison reneged on the agreement regarding uniforms, which was accomplished through Partnership meetings between front line officers and former Director Pesterfield. This is a serious safety concern for the officers and it was negotiated in good faith for months. And then it was totally disregarded by Ms. Morgan, even after she received calls from officers voicing their concerns over this unilateral decision.

Morale among officers is low, pay isn’t competitive, case loads are up and so is micro-management from people who have never spent a day in your shoes. Your management in both the Division and the Colorado Department of Corrections refuses to engage on any of these issues in a meaningful way.

Ms. Morgan’s statements this morning were appalling, not just in their dishonesty but in what they reveal about her priorities – exploiting a near tragedy to undermine your voice in the workplace.

If you have any questions or concerns about what your rights are as a state employee and a union member, contact Colorado WINS directly at 303.727.8040. The union, not your management, is the authority on the types of representation and services you receive as a union member.

In Solidarity,

Tim Markham
Colorado WINS Executive Director

PS: We issued this press statement yesterday in support of Parole Officers.

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