Welcome to the latest edition of This Week in Pensions! This is the news you need to know in the fight for a secure retirement. We have gathered the top stories about pensions and retirement security from the previous week.
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Continued Staffing Shortages Cause Chaos. Pensions are the Answer.
A worrying shortage of corrections officers is causing significant problems in Michigan’s prisons. With over 1,000 open positions, the current staff is forced to work grueling overtime hours to keep the facilities operational. Five-year veteran Bethany Perhne said, “Today I get to go home, I get to sleep for three hours, so I can see my kid for an hour. And then I come right back to work… it can be between 40 to 80 hours a week, just depending how many days they want to mandate us.”
The Michigan Department of Corrections acknowledges the staffing issues and plans to invest $12 million towards bonuses and recruitment efforts. However, Byron Osborn, the president of the Michigan Corrections Organization, highlights a deeper issue, stating, “There is no pension for correction officers right now, and there’s no retiree healthcare.” Meanwhile, recent training sessions have been only half full, hinting that the crisis may deteriorate further. This situation underscores the importance of retirement security and pensions for public employees.
Meanwhile, as Washington grapples with the surge in traffic deaths, lawmakers are exploring way to fill the 21% of vacant state trooper positions and retain those nearing retirement. Senator Marki Liias stressed, “It’s going to take us some time to add troopers back to get back to that full contingent,” Liias said. “If we can slow the pace that we’re losing troopers to retirement while we’re adding on, it kind of gives us that bridge to that new force of the future.”
Washington State Police (WSP) Chief John Batiste echoed these concerns, acknowledging the past three years as “pretty hectic,” and emphasized, “There is no substitute for experienced individuals…we’d like to do everything we can, with your help, to retain those folks.”
To address this issue, lawmakers are considering several policy options, such as offering retention bonuses, improving pensions, and allowing retirement-eligible troopers to work while collecting their pensions.
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