As California prepares to close several prisons, thousands of correctional officers are eligible to receive $10,000 bonuses through a new contract their union negotiated with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration, Cal Matters reports. The tentative deal for the California Correctional Peace Officers Association will collectively increase compensation for about 26,000 prison guards through a combination of raises, retirement perks, and pay differentials for working overnight. All correctional officers represented by the union known as CCPOA will receive 3% raises this year and next. They’ll also gain bonuses of at least $2,400 for health and wellness. Many new cadets will get $5,000 depending on where they work. The $10,000 bonuses will go to correctional officers at Salinas Valley State Prison; California State Prison, Sacramento; and R. J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego. A representative for the corrections department said the bonuses are part of the state’s recruitment and retention plans.
Another change would call on the state to fund a new retirement plan in addition to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System pensions they accrue. It would make the state deposit $475 in a 401(k) plan for each permanent, full-time employee in November 2024, and then for the state to put a sum equal to 1% of each officer’s base wages into the plan every month beginning in January 2025. If approved, the agreement is expected to cost more than $1 billion over three years, according to a summary by the state. By law, the agreement must be approved by the union and Legislature and signed by the governor before it goes into effect. “The contract discussions are going smoothly, and we have reached a tentative agreement that will first go through our internal process before we comment publicly about the substance of it,” said Glen Stailey, president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. This major contract comes as the Newsom administration cuts prison spending in other ways. California’s corrections budget runs about $15 billion a year even though the state prison population fell from some 160,000 inmates in 2011 to about 96,000 today. Newsom has closed two prisons and he plans to shut two more by 2025.