Correctional officers and staff at U. S. Penitentiary Thomson in northern Illinois will receive a boost in their locality pay, under a recommendation from the president’s Pay Agent.

Locality relates to the region where an employee works. The factor adjusts the base rate of pay for the cost of living in a geographic area.

USP Thomson is in Carroll County, Ill., which has seen large enough increases in federal employment during the past year to qualify for moving from the Rest of U.S. pay locality to the pay locality currently covering six counties surrounding Davenport and Moline, according to the Pay Agent report issued Dec. Wednesday. The Pay Agent comprises the heads of the Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management, and Department of Labor. 

American Federation of Government Employees Local 4070 has been lobbying for the locality pay change for several years as part of a larger effort to address critical staffing shortages at the high-security federal prison, the release says.

In September, the Office of Personnel Management approved a request from the Bureau of Prisons, made on behalf of AFGE, to provide all prison employees with 25% retention pay. 

The local has worked with management to hold job fairs each month this year to boost staffing at the prison, which in turn helped the prison qualify for the higher locality pay, the release says.

“We are beyond pleased that our hard-working employees will be moved into the higher paying locality. This change, in addition to the 25% retention pay we already secured, will go a long way toward helping us retain our experienced staff and recruit the additional staff we desperately need,” AFGE Local 4070 President Jon Zumkehr said.

The prison has hired 115 officers in the past year and is currently at an 84% staffing level, the release says.