MARQUETTE — Union workers from the Department of Health and Human Services came from all over the state to gather in protest this morning.
Bullying, lack of leadership, and poor managerial support are just some of the alleged reasons workers in the UAW decided to speak out about the working environment at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. After the retirement of the previous manager at the Marquette County branch, new management came in to take over.
“Since the introduction of new management here, that is when things started to spiral down hill rapidly and members are in touch with me frequently in regard to the situation here,” said Local 6000 Representative Steve Schmitt. “Many of them got a hold of me before they resigned, and it’s not that they wanted to resign or had other jobs lined up. They just needed to get out of this atmosphere.”
Protesters say that after new management arrived, the DHHS began to face a 50 percent employee turnover rate, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars. According to the UAW’s Local 6000 president, there are very few workers who have been working there over ten years remaining, and a majority of them are quitting without having another job lined up. Employees held this picket to voice their opinions and see a change in their working environment.
“We’re hoping to just bring attention to the issue, get management to sit down with us, and see if we can work out the issues and make a better environment for the people we want to service and workers who have to service those people” said UAW Local 6000 President, Ed Mitchell.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement to ABC 10 regarding the picket, stating:
“MDHHS employees in Marquette County and statewide do great work in protecting vulnerable children and in providing safety net assistance to families. However, we do have policies in place for the benefit of Michiganders who receive services from our department. In many cases, the safety and well-being of children is at stake, so it’s vitally important that staff follow these policies.”
This was the first picket for the Union members, but many of them claim it will not be the last.
“We’re here to support state employees, but really this reaches farther then just state employees. Were here to protest on behalf of any person working anywhere who has a similar situation and were putting that out there, so the public is aware of what’s happening in the worksite” said Schmitt.