The union which represents a number of state corrections workers and State Troopers believes there is a solution to the problems facing those employees.
Communications Workers of America representative Elaine Harris says her organization is one of those which represents prison guards at the state capitol. She said Monday on MetroNews Talkline it’s a bleak picture for the moment for those employees. They face difficult working conditions with low pay, long hours, and a dangerous environment. For some, it’s too much and many are leaving for other jobs.
“Being able to recruit and retain officers in some very tough situations in which they work,” said Harris. “We’ve got to look at some ways we can keep people.”
Harris said it starts with a pay raise. However, the Tomblin administration has made it clear a pay raise is a non-starter for next fiscal year’s budget. Harris isn’t so sure.
“You have to start comparing what we’re losing as compared to what the cost would be,” she reasoned during her appearance on Talkline live at the state capitol. “Compare somebody that’s been trained and a starting salary of 22-thousand dollars and it’s about 6-thousand dollars to train them. Every time you lose somebody, that’s lost.”
Presently the corrections officers are in a situation of forced overtime in prisons which are bursting at the seams. She said the situation only adds to the stress level. It drives away good people and causes other potential hires to shy away from applying for open positions.
Harris added the State Police are in an equally difficult situation. Troopers are capped at the amount of overtime they can be paid. Harris said at times the dedicated members of the State Police are literally working for free.
“I really feel if we can get all these great minds sitting down together we can come up with some solutions,” she said. “It may not be the whole load, but what can we do?”