Effort to help institutions workers in dangerous jobs gets airing

scpp-121316b-webThe good humanitarian effort to bring earlier retirement to institutions workers doing jobs with skyrocketing rates of injury will once again go to the Legislature without the recommendation of the state’s pension panel.

A majority of the Select Committee on Pension Policy today (Dec. 13) supported the bill to expand eligibility for the Public Safety Employees Retirement System (PSERS). But a recommendation needed 11 votes and only got 10.

The motion that ultimately failed was made by WFSE/AFSCME Deputy Executive Director Bob Keller, one of the members of the select committee.

As it stands, this latest version of the PSERS expansion bill will go to the Legislature next month with no recommendation.

Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich earlier urged the select committee to recommend this latest PSERS bill. It would recognize the dangerous jobs done by direct-care staff in state mental hospitals, residential habilitation centers, juvenile rehabilitation centers, and the Special Commitment Center.

And it would help bring “recruitment and retention relief” to keep good institutional employees from fleeing to safer and higher-paying jobs.

The PSERS retirement system allows its members to retire at age 60 without penalty, a lower early retirement factor than in the PERS system and a more generous death benefit.

PSERS expansion legislation passed the state House in both 2015 and 2016 but never got a hearing in the state Senate.