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Judge halts prison closure after union files suit

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

The union representing employees at the Pontiac Correctional Center has stalled closure of the maximum-security prison, at least temporarily. Livingston County Judge R. Michael Travers issued an injunction in November barring layoffs at the prison pending arbitration of grievances filed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

The union filed a lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and the Department of Central Management Services. It claimed the agencies, along with Gov. Rod Blagojevich, planned to close the facility without negotiating with the union as required under its collective-bargaining agreement and a memorandum of understanding.

IDOC began transferring inmates into prisons in East Moline and Taylorville in October.

The union said the closure violated its contract because the layoffs were not due to a legitimate business reason, such as a lack of work. It filed two additional lawsuits objecting to the diversion of funds from Pontiac to other state prisons, and the transfer of prisoners to facilities with lower levels of security.

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