Detroit Evening Report: MDHHS caseworkers picket over lack of resources, staffing

Caseworkers from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services held an informational picket on Wednesday in response to ongoing staffing issues and a growing backlog of cases at the state agency.

The picket took place during workers’ lunch hour outside a MDHHS branch on Conner Avenue in Detroit. Though state employees are prohibited to go on strike according to Michigan law, members of the UAW chapter Local 6000 representing the caseworkers were able to demonstrate during their lunch hours.

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Caseworkers and union representatives say it has become difficult for workers to provide quality service to Michigan residents without adequate resources and staffing levels. MDHHS caseworkers in recent months have had a particular influx of cases involving recertification for Medicaid eligibility, the Detroit Free Press reported. Additionally, caseworkers assist residents with other state and federal benefits like food assistance, emergency relief, housing services and more.

The UAW is notably also involved in an ongoing strike against Detroit Three automakers Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Stellantis, as well as a separate strike against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Union officials said the workers at other offices could also hold informational pickets in the coming weeks.

Some members at the station are represented by the UAW but are part of a different bargaining unit.

Other headlines for Sept. 28, 2023:

  • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the last in a series of bills that raised Michigan’s minimum marriage age to 18. The latest bill aims to strengthen previous legislation passed earlier this year.
  • A new graffiti preservation project is underway on the Southwest Greenway – a new trail connecting Michigan Central Station to the Detroit River. Created by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, The Yard Graffiti Museum will preserve more than 50 pieces of graffiti art in the outdoor gallery by sealing them beneath a protective coating.
  • The Royal Oak Farmers Market will host a Margarita Sampling Festival on Saturday, Sept. 30, featuring an assortment of tequila-based cocktails, Mexican-inspired cuisine, live music and more.
  • The Michigan chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Equity and Inclusion Team will host a Little Free Library Day on Saturday, Sept. 30, encouraging individuals to donate a book featuring BIPOC main characters or characters from underrepresented communities to your local Little Free Library.

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