Having become something of a sticky wage aficionado, I was amused to see this story, which may be the ultimate sticky-wage scenario:
Wolf, a 120-pound canine cross between a wolf and a malamute, paced his pen, staring out with amber eyes. In a few hours, his work shift would begin.So we have wolf dogs earning $750 a year working side by side with humans earning $34K.* And the warden is collecting his retirement salary along with his regular salary.
He's part of a squad of wolf dog hybrids working nights at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a local answer to the kinds of budgetary strains felt at many of the nation's prisons.
Nobody yet has tried to overpower or outrun them. Lou Cruz, 55 years old, who's serving life for a murder he committed in Jefferson Parish near Gretna in 1981, said inmates are keenly aware of the four-legged security force prowling the perimeter.
"You might run," he said, "but they're going to catch you."
The wolf dogs, as they are called here, are the brainchild of Warden Burl Cain and his staff, and they were brought in last year in response to a steady decline in the prison's annual budget from $135 million five years ago to $115 million today. The prison, which is known as Angola, has laid off 105 out of 1,200 officers, and 35 of the 42 guard towers now stand empty on the 18,000-acre prison grounds.
The animals regularly guard at least three of the seven camps that make up the complex.
Mr. Cain says the wolf dogs are a strong psychological deterrent. "The wolf ate Grandma," he said.
They also save money. The average correctional officer at Angola earns about $34,000 a year, a prison spokesman said. By comparison, the canine program, which includes about 80 dogs—the wolf hybrids along with other breeds for other tasks— costs about $60,000 annually for medical care, supplies and food.
Prison's Guards Are Part Wolf, All Business By GARY FIELDS
Having Googled a bit, I haven't found reports indicating that the prison cut wages or imposed furloughs before laying off people and hiring dogs. But even if they did, sticky wages are in play.
Assuming total compensation is $50K per officer, the prison could hire back all 105 employees if they reduced compensation of the 1095 remaining employees by $4,375. (Somebody check my math, please!)
That never happens.
* I don't know whether $34K includes benefits.
Not your father's bell curve