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Workers Union Sues Ohio Prisons For Closing Farms

Ohio Farm and Dairy
Around 56 employees represented by the union work on the prison farm.

The union that represents Ohio's corrections officers, has sued the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections to stop the planned shutdown of the state's prison farms.

The Ohio Civil Service Employee Association says that closing farms at 10 prisons without consulting the union violates the employee contract. Union president Chris Mabe, says the closures came as a surprise.

“They didn’t notify stakeholders. They obviously didn’t notify our organization who has a contract with the ODRC and the state of Ohio," said Mabe. "It’s quite surprising the lack of transparency that was shown throughout this whole process.”

The union questions the motives of the closure after the state invested $9 million in new equipment for the program just last year.

“They put millions of dollars in upgrades of farming equipment and barn structures on the very sites that they’re now touting that they’re going to sell,” said Mabe.

Prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith says $5 million in annual payroll costs for 72 employees can be better spent on security and career training.