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Union cites needs for sex offender program

David Clanaugh, director of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees Local 1701 union, talked with a group gathered Sunday at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. It was a rally to raise awareness about work conditions at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program facility in Moose Lake.

Clanaugh said there is "serious workplace staffing, retention, and safety issues" at the facility, where he coordinates volunteer service.

The rally included delegates and some officeholders from the Minnesota DFL convention taking place last weekend at the DECC.

Clanaugh said the Minnesota Department of Human Services has been unresponsive to calls for reform at MSOP.

Staff members there are discouraged, he said. "It's really hard. People are just feeling worn down and demoralized and cynical. I want to take joy in my work and right now, I'm not seeing my colleagues taking any joy in their work."

Clanaugh said security staff is down to about 65 percent of desired levels and therapy staff is down to about 55 to 60 percent of optimum levels.

He said it's been difficult to get any traction on issues regarding MSOP. Despite some talk with legislators before the past session, and some testimony during the session on safety issues and allowing employees to talk about issues without retaliation, no legislative work was done.

Clanaugh said he wanted to be clear that he was speaking as a union representative, to avoid any repercussions.

"I really look at this as a bipartisan issue," Clanaugh said. "Public safety and scrutiny of how our tax dollars are being used to get effective outcomes. I think that's something we can all agree on."

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