Mayor Rohn Bishop on corrections officer jobs in Waupun

Waupun Mayor Rohn Bishop considers how impacts of Act 10 on unions and lagging pay rates have affected working conditions and morale of corrections officers in the community and around Wisconsin.

By Zac Schultz | Here & Now

June 11, 2024 • Southeast Region

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Mayor Rohn Bishop:
I've always been on the Republican side of things. And when Act 10 happened, I supported it and it did a lot to give local city governments, like me, school boards, more control over their local stuff. And that's good. It saved taxpayers a lot of money. I understand why they went on Corrections too. They needed to kick in on the pension benefits and the health insurance because of the cost and we were running a state budget deficit. Hindsight's 20/20, but at the time I did say I wish that they could have found a way to let correctional officers still unionize for safety and security reasons. Their number-one concern is their safety and getting home safe. And then the politics of it, like correctional officers, they were supporters of Republicans in the Thompson era. They fell away from that. I think Republican-elected officials didn't care enough because they weren't voting for them. And the Democrat party is more soft on crime, for a lack of a better way of putting it, and I think there was no one looking out for them. And that went on for 14 years and it led to, their pay wasn't very good for what they were doing, the benefits weren't as attractive as they were, morale went down. And in Corrections, it used to be, it was a generational job. "My dad worked there, I worked there," and then their kid would work there. What happened after 2010 is people were like, "Don't come work here. Just don't do it." And that got out into the community and people stopped doing it and that wasn't a good thing. The very sad thing too about this is, after these new pay raises that came through in the last state budget, you can see in the Corrections Academy classes, the numbers are up. People are coming to work for Corrections again. They're getting there, I would say within two years, the vacancy rate's gonna get down to where it's manageable and the prison can go back to the way it used to be. And then this hits the news. And I can see why this would deter people from wanting to work in Corrections because a lot of these are just people going to do their job and I think they got swept up in something bigger than them.

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