Employees at GEO Medical Group Vote Unanimously to Ratify Their First Union Contract With Teamsters Local 1932

Employees at GEO Secure Services Vote Unanimously to Ratify Their First Union Contract with Teamsters Local 1932  


On December 15, 2022, medical department employees who work at the GEO High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto, California unanimously ratified their first union contract and became the newest members of Teamsters Local 1932. 


This brave group of employees, made up of Nurse Practitioners, Licensed Vocational Nurses, and Registered Nurses, collectively reached out via Local 1932’s website a year into the COVID-19 pandemic in hopes of making significant changes in their workplace. 


“Organizing and forming OUR union was important to ensure WE had a voice and a seat at the table,” said Katrina Cato, who has worked as a Licensed Vocational Nurse at the High Desert Detention Center for just over 10 years. 


Three months after originally contacting Local 1932, the group voted 50 to 0 in an NLRB election to have their union certified and ultimately recognized by their employer, which at the time was a company called Wellpath. Just a month after the unanimous NLRB election victory, Wellpath decided to leave California. GEO, which operated the facility and contracted Wellpath for medical services, decided to bring the group in-house.   


The next month, during a 60-day transition from Wellpath to GEO, Local 1932 Organizer, Diane Warren, who was the lead organizer supporting these workers in their efforts, tragically and unexpectedly passed away. 


“On top of being a special person and a dear friend, Diane was an amazing organizer,” said Rich Smith, the Teamsters Local 1932 Organizer who took over the GEO campaign when Diane passed. “She worked with Katrina to help these workers build so much solidarity and power, as evidenced by the unanimous NLRB election vote.  Given everything this group endured to get to the bargaining table, it’s a testimony to the impact she made in this organizing campaign.”   


Throughout negotiations, GEO made attempts to split the Nurse Practitioners from the rest of the group. “First, they tried to carve the 4 of us out of the unit in exchange for adding 15 ancillary employees,” said Tanya Willis, a Nurse Practitioner at the High Desert Detention Center for over 5 years.  “We made it clear this was unacceptable.  Ultimately, we stayed in the unit and were able to bring the ancillary employees in as well.  Then GEO tried to get us to agree to a contract with guaranteed raises for everyone except the Nurse Practitioners. Once again, we said no, and they blinked.  In the end, everyone secured guaranteed raises, some quite significant, in this first contract!” 


“This group was so united the company didn’t have a chance,” said Randy Korgan, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 1932. “This is a special bookend to an amazing story of solidarity and perseverance, and a great addition to the legacy of our dear sister Diane.” 


Katrina is proud to say, “We get to now choose what to eat and are no longer just being served!  Along with that voice and seat at the table comes: Respect for our profession, better pay, and a grievance process! It is an honor to be a part of the prestigious IBT!” 


 The newest Teamsters at GEO Secure Services join nearly 14,000 other members of Teamsters Local 1932 throughout the Inland Empire, including nearly 2,000 who work in area medical facilities.