Florida state hospital employees are hoping to get their voices heard about safety and special risk benefits for employees.
Jeanette Wynn and several Florida state hospital workers have been lobbying lawmakers for two decades with hopes of getting special risk benefits for employees.
Jeanette Wynn said, "When we go lobbying they say they don't have the funds yet to give the people who are not direct care the special risk, it really hurts.”
Florida state employees say on any given day someone is injured on the job, workers have been rallying for special-risk retirement for those working in direct contact with some the most dangerous residents.
The recent death of James Smith, a hospital worker who collapsed on the job while trying to break up a fight between an employee and resident, is bringing the need for special risk retirement back to the forefront.
Doris Cobb said, "We have no protection, no physical protection, no financial protection, and so we need the special risk. In that way we can retire at an early age because this is stress, it's a very, very stressful situation.”
It’s a stressful situation some say can be a matter of life and death for those on the front lines of taking care of mental residents on a day to day basis.
Special risk benefits allows employees to retire after 25 years of service, with 72 percent of their retirement pay. Right now retired employees get 48 percent.