DHS workers rally for more employees
Mon, 22 Feb 2010 21:14:47 GMT —
Dozens take to the Genesee County Department of Human Services office, calling for more workers after recent acts of violence against DHS employees.
In November of 2009, 7 DHS employees testified in front of law-makers in Lansing about being assaulted.
Since then, workers have been held at gunpoint and knife point, thrown to the ground, and robbed.
Case workers and their supporters rallied in Flint for more employees.
DHS says case loads are up 221% since 2002.
They believe more workers would mean more protection.
Ray Holman from UAW Local 6000 says, "Right here in Flint on Jan.28, we had a worker robbed at gunpoint. I certainly hope Lansing is listening."
Workers say, they usually make house calls in pairs, but with a short staff, some are sacrificing their own safety to do it alone.
State Senator John Gleason joined the protesters Monday afternoon, he says "There was a lot of dust up when the Iraq war and Afghanistan effort began about our folks being unprotected and not being fully armored. These folks (DHS workers) go in by themselves in hostile situations."
Workers say, that hostility comes from a broken system that's delaying the distribution of food stamps and Medicaid to the record number of people receiving assistance.
Holman says, "It's very tense in the streets and in the lobbies at DHS as well."
Union leaders say 1 in 5 people come through DHS' doors.
Holman says, "Our case workers are drowning across the state, case workers average anywhere between 700 and 1,000 cases."
Edward Woods III, communications director for the Michigan Department of Human Services says, "We're doing all that we can to ensure that our workers are safe and can provide timely benefits to those in need, but the bottomline is, we have more people in need than bodies to process for."
The Michigan DHS has proposed the rehiring of 197 positions. It is up to the state legislature to decide on that.