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Sterling Heights DHS Workers Protest Caseloads PDF Print E-mail

Region 1A Rep tomLawrence supports his fellow workers Tom Lawrence, UAW Local 6000 Region 1A Rep gets the message out to the public


On December 18th about 70 people, including almost every UAW employee at the Sterling Heights DHS in Macomb County, held a lunchtime informational picket to draw attention to some of the highest caseloads in the state, and the resulting impact on the public.

Workers at Sterling Heights have had caseloads approaching or exceeding 1,000 cases for the past year or so. As a result, their work is tremendously backlogged, which means it is harder and harder for clients to get timely service. Workers at this office (and others in Macomb County) have been working a lot of overtime (including mandatory overtime) for the past year, and still can’t keep up. In addition, a common complaint was the Bridges computer system. Some of the signs that people held and waved to the passing cars included “DHS What a Mess”, “Bridges to Nowhere”, and “We Need More Boots on the Ground

The news media covered the story well. It was on the Channel 4 News, Michigan Public Radio, and covered in the Detroit News, Free Press, and front page in the Macomb Daily. In addition, as an Associated Press story, it was picked up by newspapers around the state, and by the Chicago Tribune. Local 6000 Legislative Liaison Ray Holman deserves a big pat on the back for helping to coordinate the news media coverage. The news media emphasized how many people in this state are now turning to DHS for help and there just aren’t enough workers to help them ! A number of employees in the office helped organize the picket. These include Maria Walters, Sherry Rehes, Jennifer Wegeman and many others. Without their help, it would not have been as successful. Not only did DHS employees, retirees, and clients attend the picket, but so did a staff representative for State Senator Michael Switalski. On the following Monday, Senator Switalski himself came and sat down with employees in the office to try to address their concerns. A big thanks also to those who came from other DHS offices, including the Mt. Clemens and Warren Macomb County offices, plus people from Oakland, St. Clair County and as far away as Berrien County DHS. A special thanks to President Ed Mitchell, who couldn’t attend due to a previous commitment, but through his support and resources helped make this event a success...

Coincidental or not, on the day of the picket, it was announced that Macomb County DHS was gaining 24 ES positions (many will be for Sterling Heights). This will be a welcome relief WHEN they actually get there. Although it is good this particularly hard-hit office is gaining employees, other offices will be losing to make up for this increase. The bottom line is WE NEED MORE WORKERS TO DO THIS JOB EFFECTIVELY !

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