The Missouri Corrections Officers Association is alleging the state is denying representatives access to basic training classes to speak to new employees they represent. 

The lawsuit, filed in Cole County Circuit Court and assigned to Judge Jon Beetem, is against the Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC), DOC Director Anne Precythe, and the Missouri Department of Administration. The labor organization, on behalf of itself and state employee members, is seeking declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. 

“The sudden decision of the Department and the Director to deny access to the Association, but continue to allow access to other persons and entities, is discriminatory, arbitrary, and unconstitutional, in violation of Article I, Sections 8 and 29,” the petition alleges. 

According to the lawsuit, the corrections officers association was notified in mid-May it was removed from the basic training schedule and “would not be given access to speak to new bargaining unit employees” for the classes on June 12, 13, and 14, 2019. 

In refusing the association access, as laid out in the most recent labor agreement which expired last fall, the state is violating the Missouri Constitution, the complaint alleges. It also claims the DOC continued to allow other organizations — including tax-exempt organizations like the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation (CPOF) and for-profit businesses such as the University of Phoenix, AFLAC, and Purdue Global — to speak during basic training. 

The association and the state are currently negotiating a new labor agreement. The most recent agreement expired on September 30, 2018.

“Immediately after the expiration of the most recent [labor agreement], the Association continued to receive access to speak to new bargaining unit employees during basic training courses in the same manner and to same extent as under the CBA and as in the past,” the lawsuit states. 

It alleges the state said, “the reason the Association would not be given access was because the labor agreement had expired.” That, according to the corrections officers association, violates to constitutional clause to bargain in good faith. 

No hearing has been set as of Thursday. Read the full lawsuit below.