Department of Human Services Staffing Meeting: Fighting to Protect our Services and Staffing

Thursday, July 17th, 2019, leaders of AFSCME Local 112 met with Department of Human Services secretary, Lourdes Padilla, and her team for the Annual Staffing Meeting.  As outlined in our union contract, the Annual Staffing Meeting is intended to, give union members an opportunity to discuss staffing levels with management.

AFSCME Local 112 President Donna Edwards, Board Members Cherrish Vick (APS) and Pam Richardson (FIA) Prince George’s County; Laurice Jones (CWS) Baltimore City; Jake Klaus (APS) Anne Arundel County and President Donna Edwards joined by activist stewards, Monica Mayo (FIA) Baltimore City; Jennifer Carpenter (FIA) AA County  [formerly Talbot Co] and April Tindall (LTC/FIA) St Mary’s Co prepared the agenda with a statewide perspective including issues from all of our programs and compilation of completed surveys. Have questions about your local or survey results?  Please contact your AFSCME Local 112 President Donna Edwards at [email protected].

The discussion with management revealed:

  • As won by AFSCME in the 2020 Budget Actions, DHS is compiling the salary comparison of Maryland's DHS classification to comparative classifications in surrounding counties and states and DC. This report is due by October 1st, 2019. 
  • DHS has not conducted the caseload study of FIA workloads requested by legislative action.
  • DHS confirmed that all local departments should have made Adult Services Social Workers I and II’s equal in pay to the Child Welfare Social Workers I and II as of June 2018. If you want more information or have questions about Social Worker pay parity, please contact your local union or AFSCME Council 3.
  • DHS is not asking for more staff (pins) in the next budget. DHS currently has a 9.2% vacancy rate and must maintain a 7% vacancy rate mandated by the Governor’s administration.
  • DHS filled 30 positions (15 in child welfare). They are conducting regulation interviews for positions so they have a pool of potential hiring candidates in FIA and Services when vacancies occur.
  • DHS has workers from each local department giving input to MD THINK and they are working out problems before it is rolled out next year.

The AFSCME Local 112 team presented additional information.

  • The heavy workload is experienced statewide by workers in every program.
  • Customers are presenting more complex problems stemming from mental health issues and the opioid epidemic that is affecting FIA, Services and Child Support casework.
  • There are already several problems with MD THINK reported by workers in the trial areas and workers comments are not getting to the technicians
  • There continues to be issues in DHS reporting that Child Welfare is meeting the CWLA standards
  • According to recently completed surveys, over 80% of workers are experiencing an increase in workloads and observing significant decrease in staff morale.
  • There is a severe disconnect between the Secretary’s message that our workers are the biggest asset that DHS has and she appreciates their commitment and work, and the punitive messages and lack of positive communication delivered to the workers by local DSS’s administrative staff

AFSCME Local 112 and DHS agreed to hold quarterly statewide LMC’s (Labor Management Committee meetings) to follow-up on the above issues and more that are identified by the Local DSS’s LLMC’s. This is a huge step forward and we will need every member to come together and join us in this fight. If we don’t act now, management will continue to let the vacancies increase and the quality of our casework degrade.

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To connect with your local, please contact President Donna Edwards at [email protected]