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ALBANY – Nearly 500 union members from the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA) were backed by PEF leaders at a rally at West Capitol Park on an unusually warm and sunny day to protest the closures of four state prisons, and the elimination of other state services as proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

After more than a dozen state Senators and Assembly Members spoke about the important and brave work done every day by the men and women whose jobs take place behind bars, NYSCOPBA President Donn Rowe introduced PEF President Susan Kent, and noted she organized an earlier rally to save services.

“That’s what this is all about,” Rowe said. “It’s my honor to call Susan a friend, and a comrade who will fight with us to the end.”

Kent led the crowd with an echoing chant of the word “union.”

“You should be proud of the jobs you do, and you should be hearing from the governor, Legislature and fellow citizens thanking you for the work you do. But the media is painting a picture of union members as people who only care about their jobs. There is nothing wrong with caring about your jobs. They also need to understand you provide safety to the people who work in prison facilities, as well as the safety for New York citizens outside of those facilities,” Kent said. “The governor doesn’t have a plan. We will have to have our own plan if the governor’s terrible public policy unfolds. Again, we will have to turn things around as we have seen with other bad public policy decisions this governor has put into place.”

Kent ended the rally by telling the enthusiastic crowd to “keep your heads up high because the work you do for this state is important.”

The governor has proposed the closures of Monterey Shock (Schuyler County). Butler (Wayne County), Chateaugay (Franklin County) and Mt. McGregor (Saratoga County).