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The union that represents Nebraska corrections officers and safety and security specialists at the state's prisons and regional centers has reached a deal with the state on a new pay plan.

"This new agreement shows how much we value the teammates working in our state prisons and DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) facilities," Gov. Pete Ricketts said in a press release.

He said the plan builds on the great work of Scott Frakes, the prisons director, and his team to "reduce turnover and build the team we need to keep people safe."

In January, the administration announced that annual staff turnover at the Department of Corrections had declined for the first time since 2010.

The agreement between the state and the Fraternal Order of Police includes: merit raises; a move from eight-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts; and pay adjustments for all classifications.

For instance, new corrections officers at the state's prisons will receive 2.5% merit increases for hitting certain career milestones, including one, three, five, seven and 10 years of satisfactory performance.

And, in July, current corrections officers will receive a higher wage based on their years of service. For example, an employee with 10 years of service will receive a 12.5% increase.

The state will get the discretion to implement 12-hour shifts at high-security men’s facilities on up to 50% of posts, a move that Frakes said will help create a safer environment for corrections officers and reduce overtime.

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Safety and security specialists at regional centers will see their pay levels increase, following a decision by the Commission on Industrial Relations.

Frakes said protective services staff make great sacrifices to help keep prisons secure and protect public safety.

"This new merit system recognizes their experience and performance they bring to the jobs to help make our team successful every day," he said.

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