Michigan DHS – DCH Merger Talks Concern Union Workers

(WLNS) – One of the biggest plans Governor Rick Snyder talked about in his State of the State Tuesday night is merging the Department of Human Services with the Department of Community Health.

He believes it would be a win-win for all involved, but as 6 News Intern Cat Reid explains some state workers are nervous about the plan.

“The devil will be in the details or the details will be in the devil.”

When the Department of Community Health merges with the Department of Human Services, it will create the largest department in the state, with more than 14,000 employees.

“The local UAW 6000 wasn’t consulted about this.”

Ray Holman is the legislative liaison for the state employees’ union.

He says the merger could be harmful for case workers in both departments.

“You have to realize, as a case worker, it’s a very stressful job, you’re dealing with people in crisis. And when they’re worrying about their worksites changing, they’re worrying about being laid off, trying to keep up, it’s disruptive,” said Ray Holman, UAW Legislative Liaison.

A spokesman from the Department of Human Services says it is “too soon to tell if workers will be laid off in the streamlining process.”

He did however emphasize that this decision is not related to the budget problems that led to 100 DHS layoffs on Friday, Jan. 16.

As for the Department of Community Health, they’re excited about the merger.

“We have a longstanding partnership, and by aligning more closely and coordinating, having better coordination internally, we really believe that will enable us to deliver services to our clients in a much more coordinated fashion,” said Jennifer Smith, Department of Community Health.

Holman just hopes the union will be invited to negotiations.

“We have a lot to offer, but we need to be included.”

Governor Snyder is expected to sign an executive order within the next few weeks. Once that is signed, the merger will take effect in 60 days, unless it is rejected by the house and senate.

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