Growing and strengthening west Michigan's middle class
DETROIT February 26, 2015– Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2016 budget slashes almost $24 million from the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) budget, which means overworked state employees are about to be pinched even more. And of course, these budget cuts won’t impact the state’s wealthier residents, but rather those in need of Medicaid, food assistance, child care and other state aid.
DHS employees, members of UAW Local 6000, took to the streets of Detroit today to voice their concerns over Snyder’s callous cuts.
“There are too many families that need help and the department won’t fund enough workers to care for the families,” Rick Michael, a union representative for UAW Local 6000, told MLive.
At a time when middle class families are making less than they have in decade, and more people are in need of state aid, the governor’s cuts couldn’t be more damaging to an already-fragile economy. Median per capita income in Michigan has dropped almost 11% since 2005, according to the US Census Bureau.
A crowd of state employees and union representatives picketed along Greenfield Road outside a Department of Human Services office Wednesday, protesting layoffs and growing caseloads for workers who handle applications for services like Medicaid, food assistance, child care and other forms of aid.
Union officials claimed some workers are responsible for as many as 900 cases and can’t appropriately tend to them all without working unpaid extra hours.
A crowd of about 50 waved signs at passing traffic and chanted “We are the front line, not the bottom line,” and “Hire more workers.”
About 100 Humans Services Department workers around Michigan were laid off Feb. 15 due to state budgeting cuts.
Protesters said the cuts affect both workers and the families they serve.
“They’re working through lunches and breaks and coming in early and going home late without getting paid for the extra hours,” said UAW Local 6000 President Ed Mitchell about workers with hundreds of cases. “It’s just impossible.”
But he said department Director Nick Lyon has met with union officials to hear their concerns.
“He seems very receptive to what we’re saying,” Mitchell said. “At least he’s actually talking to us.”
Local 6000 represents about 22,000 members statewide and is based in Lansing.