The impasse panel hearing took place today as scheduled.
“Risk, Reward, Retention” was our mantra. MCO’s arguments focused on the years-long staffing crisis and MDOC’s inability to retain officers. MCO Legal Director Jeff Foldie presented several pieces of data, including staffing statistics, to show the problem is real, and that MDOC hasn’t adequately addressed the issue. The panel seemed especially interested in the fact that one-third of all officers hired since 2012 are no longer corrections officers.
Foldie also pointed out that one-fifth of prisons are at critical staffing levels, and women officers at WHV have been forced to work shifts of 16 hours or more several days a week.
The state did not present strong evidence against our arguments in their rebuttal. They said the MDOC is working on recruitment and we should let their efforts play out over the next year. Their statements centered on recruitment, but not retention.
MCO also addressed PTSD and the stresses of working in corrections.
Officers are doing the job under extraordinary pressure and this should be reflected in their compensation.
MCO staff intended to livestream the meeting, but that wasn’t permitted. The impasse panel required us to make a motion to allow livestreaming and video recording. The state objected, saying the hearing was an extension of the bargaining process. In the end, the panel did allow us to record video. But because the panel acknowledged the hearing is an extension of bargaining, we aren’t sure when we will be able to release the video. We don’t want to take a misstep that could backfire on us this late in the process.
The impasse panel must release their report by Nov. 21.
Watch our website and Facebook group for future updates.