Federal Correctional Officers’ Union calls for removal of USP Thomson Prison Warden

Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 3:34 PM CST
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THOMSON, Ill. (KWQC) - The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the union representing federal correctional officers and staff across the country, is calling for the removal of the warden at USP Thomson.

According to AFGE the call for removal of Warden Thomas Bergami comes from the warden’s failure to address the rampant sexual assault and misconduct of employees by inmates at the high-security prison.

AFDE Local 4070 President Jon Zumkehr at the prison stated employees have reported having mental health problems and stress-reduced illness due to these encounters.

“The lack of response from management has only emboldened inmates, and we are very fearful the next attack will be physical. We have given Warden Thomas Bergami plenty of opportunity to address these incidents, yet his failure to do so leaves us with no choice but to demand his removal,” said Zumkehr.

Local 4070 officials say letters have been sent to the Department of Justice and engaged members of the area’s congressional delegation to also call for action to be taken to protect the correctional officers and staff who work in the prison. Many of these incidents would qualify for criminal prosecution if they occurred outside the prison, but inmates have been engaging in this type of behavior against sworn law enforcement officers with no consequences.

“These incidents create a hostile and unsafe workplace for correctional officers and staff, and the failure of prison management to protect its employees is deeply disturbing,” said AFGE District 7 National Vice President Jason Anderson, whose district includes federal employees working in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

“In recent months, the actions of the warden of USP Thomson demonstrates a culture of indignity, rampant sexually abusive behaviors towards employees, and unsafe prison conditions,” AFGE Council of Prison Locals National President Shane Fausey said. “Ineffective discipline, or the absence of effective disciplinary responses to the most egregious offender misconduct, breeds an atmosphere of resentment and hostility, permits a continuation of criminal conduct, and emboldens the most deviant offenders to an escalation of more violent behaviors. Before an employee is seriously injured or killed, we call upon the senior leadership of the BOP to immediately intervene in the toxic leadership of USP Thomson and effectively protect the employees, by any means necessary.”

“Failing to act on employees’ complaints retraumatizes victims and discourages others from coming forward,” said AFGE National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices Jeremy Lannan,