AFSCME Council 18

AFSCME Members Deliver Petition Signatures at Personnel Board Meeting

Heavy Lifting for CYFD Investigators as SPO Contiunes to Drop Ball

AFSCME Local leaders representing Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD) delivered over 100 petition signatures to the January State Personnel Board meeting. The petition called upon State Personnel to address wage disparity, retention, and recruitment issues creating serious staffing, morale, and safety concerns across state government.

CYFD Child Protective Service workers (CPS), staff at JPPO, and JPTC mentor confined and at-risk youth, find placements, and conduct home checks for high-needs children. “Staff at these sites are 100%  dedicated  and committed to assisting NM youth feel safe and valued. We mentor them in life skills and provide resources and tools necessary to steer themselves towards productive futures,” says Corina Barron-Sifuentes, President Local 3320. ?

Following the January meeting, SPO Director Gene Moser and Labor Relations specialist Sandy Martinez spoke amicably with AFSCME leaders and set a date to meet over the issues, brain-storm solutions, and share information.

Sadly, just 48 hours before the meeting, SPO contacted AFSCME Council 18 to say the meeting was "OFF" and would not take place under any circumstances.

So, for the second time in three months, AFSCME members again appeared before the State Personnel Board meeting in February and asked for urgent wage disparity and vacancy issues be addressed.

Moser laid the blame at the feet of AFSCME, claiming we're not seriously bargaining or willing to move on key issues at the negotiating table.

"SPO has never put the pay classification topic on the table during bargaining and to say otherwise, is untruthful." said AFSCME Council 18 Executive Director and negotiator Connie Derr. "In fact, we learn more of SPO's intentions from their presentations to the LFC and the State Personnel Board than at the bargaining table."

AFSCME Members offered public comment and dressed down Moser for his obstructionist stance and refusal to meet with members. "If our only opportunities to address these serious issues takes place during a two-minute public comment window, during a hallway meeting, or across the table from the state's hired consultants, tasked with a mission to dismantle the worker's union entirely, then we are doomed to perpetuate this management versus workers mentality," said Miles Conway, AFSCME 18 Communications.

Staff Representative Joel Villarreal took issue with Moser's statements saying, "The state isn't proposing to negotiate minor or reasonable changes to the contract, they're set on wholesale destruction of our union, and employee contract rights.”

In a follow-up letter to State Legislators, Lisa Hannah, CYFD senior investigator and VP Local 2029, warned of extremely dangerous caseload levels. “CYFD investigators are receiving MORE than double the caseloads determined safe by federal standards. Federal standards say 12 investigations per full work month, to be decreased when accounting for leave times and holidays. We are getting between 20-30 or more per month, and sometimes we will see as many as 3 investigations a day. Studies repeatedly have shown that when states have adopted the standards and gotten caseloads down, there have been less repeat reports, drops in child abuse, dramatic increases in retention of staff, higher morale and much, MUCH more positive results preventing child abuse and neglect.”

The Board voted to extend a practice of utilizing alternative pay bands to recruit and retain employees, but incentives aren't reaching long-term state employees. Facing high vacancies, staff often find themselves working 16 hour days to make sure the services are provided. “Dedicated staff are working overtime and taking time away from their own families to make sure the work is getting done. Additionally, these staff members make contributions of time and money to support client programming by coming in on days off to engage in client activities,” reports Barron-Sifuentes.

In a final elegant stroke following AFSCME members’ statements and board discussion of pay parity, constrained budgets, and austere SPO rules, the board voted to create some new classifications with handsome raises for state personnel office employees.

AFSCME Leaders: Paula Fisher, Aurora Martinez, Lisa Hannah, Joel Villareal, Tony Garcia spoke at 1/11/13 SPB Meeting

“Something must be done, and done immediately. New Mexico’s children are suffering because we can't do our jobs properly,” concluded Hannah.   (additional research can be found at www.childwelfare.gov)

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