Wis. governor announces $3-per-hour pay raise for COs

More than 5,000 employees received the temporary pay increase that went into effect Sunday


By Sarah Sinning

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced on Friday a temporary pay increase for state correctional officers and other security workers, WBAY reports. The move comes after lawmakers failed to agree on legislation that would have implemented a permanent raise for the impacted workers.

Evers said the $3-per-hour raise, which went into effect March 13, is for correctional officers, sergeants, psychiatric care technicians, youth counselors and related supervisors.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers addresses a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chambers during the governor's State of the State speech at the state Capitol onn Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, in Madison, Wis.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers addresses a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chambers during the governor's State of the State speech at the state Capitol onn Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

“Our security personnel have faced higher workloads, pressures, and hazards throughout the pandemic, and deserve to be fairly compensated,” Evers said. “My initial proposal called for an ongoing $5-per-hour increase for security pay, which the Legislature refused to fund. This increase will provide a much-needed boost not only for recruitment and retention but also to recognize the critical role these workers have across our state.”

The increase, which will tap into American Rescue Plan Act funds, will continue through June 17, 2023, unless an extension is approved, the governor said. More than 5,000 workers received the pay boost.

“This is a major step towards making compensation more competitive for a sizeable portion of our agency’s workforce that provides direct care,” said DOC Secretary Kevin Carr. “When this administration took office, starting pay for a correctional officer was $16.65 per hour. After previous pay increases, that increased to $19.89 per hour. Now, with this add-on, the starting rate for all correctional officers will go to $22.89 per hour, which is a 37% increase in just three years. We will continue to advocate for better compensation for our staff, focusing on the areas of greatest need.”

During a recent hearing on the staffing crisis plaguing the state's prison system, a veteran officer pleaded with lawmakers to do something to provide relief. “I cannot begin to convey to you the frustration, the anger and the bitterness felt among our ranks,” Sgt. Paul Oosterhouse said.

"While I support Governor Evers’ use of federal funds for immediate, critical relief," Rep. David Steffen (R) said in a statement following the announcement, "Evers needs to work with the communities and legislature on sustainable, long-term solutions to this challenge.”

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