Very true, the problem is going to be with shrinking budgets in state corrections it (private prisons) will be a alternative. If the bad publicity like CCA (CXW) ever stops. GEO is being deliberate in making its move and i would agree it is time to buy as i would look for price to hit 25 by years end
Current, former employees may accept deal over overtime wages, benefits
By AMY HILVERS, Californian staff writer e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday September 7th, 2004, 11:25 PM
A three-year overtime wage and benefit court battle pitting employees against a private prison company is finally nearing an end.
A settlement agreement is set to be finalized Sept. 27 between about 2,700 current and former employees and Wackenhut Corrections Corp., now The GEO Group Inc..
The workers, both guards and support personnel, claimed the company did not pay overtime and made them work off the clock without pay. They also claimed they were not given proper rest and meal breaks.
The employees worked at six private prisons in California, four of which are in Kern County. The Kern prisons include the McFarland Community Correctional Facility, Central Valley Modified Community Correctional Facility, and Golden State Modified Community Correctional Facility, all in McFarland, and the Taft Correctional Institution. The McFarland Community Correctional Facility closed in December. All housed state prisoners except the Taft facility, which is a federal prison.
The other two prisons are a state lockup in Adelanto and a federal facility in San Diego.
Some employees were misclassified as supervisors and did not receive overtime, even though their work did not meet the requirement for exemption, said Bakersfield attorney Philip Ganong, who represented the employees.
"We actually have times recorded showing people working more than eight hours and not getting paid for it," Ganong said.
One of the lead plaintiffs in the class-action suit is Veronica Salas, who temporarily worked for The GEO Group while it was still named Wackenhut. She said she wasn't given restroom breaks even when she was pregnant. Other times she wasn't paid overtime.
The total amount of the settlement is about $10 million in cash and non-cash benefits, Ganong said. The non-cash benefits require the company to give paid days off, implement a new time-keeping system and modify the way it tracks hours.
The company also must change policies, including retraining human resources employees on California wage and hour laws.
"Maybe I won't get to enjoy those little changes but I'm sure whoever is working right now they'll be glad that some of this is changing," Salas said.
Whether the settlement is approved depend on how many people accept it, Ganong said.
Ganong said those who have received notice must file a claim by today. If a person has not received a notice in the mail, the deadline to decide to accept or opt out of the settlement is Sept. 18. Those looking for information on the suit can call Rust Consulting Inc. at 1-866-459-3648. ask for the Salas claims administrator.
A judge has already given preliminary approval of the settlement, and a final hearing is scheduled for Sept. 27, Ganong said. If employees want to make a comment or suggestion they can attend the hearing.
Paul Lafranchise, the attorney for The GEO Group, Inc., referred questions to their corporate office in Florida. Attempts to reach the public information officer for the company were unsuccessful.