|DHS Workers Protest in the Snow|
(See pictures - click on photos above)
Schools closed across Michigan as people woke up on the morning of February 22nd to a snow storm. This did not stop the Genesee County DHS workers from holding an Informational Picket nor did it stop three TV stations from sending crews to cover the rally. State Senators Deborah Cherry and John Gleason also braved the snow to picket. Just like DHS workers in Sterling Heights who protested on December 18th 2009, the Genesee County workers marched out of frustrations with high caseloads and serious safety issues.
Genesee County DHS workers like other state employees around the state, struggle every day with the Bridges computer program crippling their ability to get the desperately needed services out to citizens. Case workers in Genesee County have also been assaulted. In fact on January 28th 2010 a Children’s Protective Services Worker was robbed at knife point. The rally was held to force Lansing lawmakers to wake up and send more staff to DHS before someone gets killed. Caseloads have gone through the roof, which has in turn left people without food, shelter and other basics as the safety net in Michigan is becoming more difficult to maintain. DHS does not have enough staff to meet the demand the public has placed on the department.
Governor Jennifer Granholm and DHS Director Ismael Ahmed have called on the legislature to add 850 new employees. This must be done right away or people will continue to suffer and workers will continue to be robbed and assaulted. DHS workers will not stop speaking out until more staff members are hired.
The “behind the scenes” people responsible for making this event so powerful include: Marie Putman, Chief Steward Michael McEwan, Jennifer Johnson, Kelly Palmer, Kelly Millar, Kimberly Lorick, Tom Botello, Kelly Clark-Huey, Michele Moore and Martha Hosmer-Arion who spent many hours after work organizing the picket; UAW Local 651 President Art Reyes made his union hall available for meetings and sent workers to march; UAW Local 6000 Legislative Committee members Marie Enriquez, Eric Sales (who came all the way from Benton Harbor) and Krista Hainey all made multiple trips to Flint using their own time; The Center for Civil Justice also sent people to march; Sterling Heights DHS Worker Jennifer Wegmann whose chant “DHS What a Mess” can be heard on the background of the TV news coverage; UAW Local 6000 Vice President Ruth Mutchler, Treasurer Miya Williamson and Health and Safety Representative Caroline Ross all drove through the blowing snow to picket. Thanks to UAW Local 6000 President Ed Mitchell who approved the rally and continues to provide steady leadership. The most important participants are the 50 plus Genesee County DHS workers who marched for all workers across the state; they have made state employees proud.
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