BCGEU senior leaders took concerns of correctional officers and deputy sheriffs right to the top in back-to-back meetings with the new BC NDP Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth and Attorney General David Eby.
BCGEU President Stephanie Smith and BCGEU Vice President, Component 1 Corrections and Sheriff Services, Dean Purdy presented a detailed proposal from Component 1 to both ministers that outlined a retention and wage crisis that must be addressed. Some of the highlights of the proposal include:
- Recruitment and retention statistics from both the employer and the union;
- National and provincial wage comparisons to Federal Corrections & Alberta Sheriffs as well as municipal police, South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service (SCBCTAPS) and RCMP
- Training and overtime costs for new recruits for both corrections and sheriffs;
- BC Sheriffs exit interview numbers;
- Language in our contract that allows us to negotiate a Temporary Market Adjustment (TMA) at any time during the life of our current contract;
- A solution and detailed outline of where both corrections and sheriffs wages need to move to
Police agencies are aggressively and actively recruiting both correctional officers and sheriffs who are leaving on a regular basis to higher paying policing jobs because they can't continue to stay where there is a $36,000 wage differential between them and the average municipal police salary. The gap between corrections and sheriffs is widening at a steady pace and this must be addressed immediately.
From a fiscal standpoint it doesn't make sense to continually hire and train new recruits only to see them leave. Our members are telling us that many corrections officers and deputy sheriffs are lined up to leave and are currently in the recruiting process with police agencies.
In recent sheriffs exit surveys, 80 per cent of sheriffs that left the service pointed to wages as the number one reason why they are leaving.
Correctional officers have an attrition rate of 14 per cent, while sheriffs are on pace to lose approximately 50 deputy sheriffs this fiscal year. With the courts already overburdened and short of sheriffs, we can't afford to wait.
Your union made a strong case for immediate compensation adjustments to address this ongoing crisis. Working with our new government, there is an opportunity to fix this now and to get out in front of a problem that should have been fixed by the previous government.
Purdy and Smith both agreed that overall the meetings were very positive. Both ministers agreed to a follow up meeting with the Corrections and Sheriffs Services Component 1 representatives in the coming four weeks to discuss the union's proposal.
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