Strength in numbers to make workplace changes

State employees at a Nevada facility for intellectually disabled adults and children recently learned  that strength really does come in numbers. Concerned about a new shift scheduling process introduced by management, these workers came together to voice their issues and take their seat at the table to discuss this change.   

Facility management unilaterally made the decision to change all staffing schedules, without taking into consideration the needs of residents or staff. The new scheduling process would create gaps in coverage creating mandatory overtime of up to 16-hour double shifts for staff. These gaps would lead to insufficient staffing to cover resident activities, which are needed to aid in the resident's ability to learn valuable life skills. Additionally, this scheduling change would create confusion for residents from constant change of development techs the residents are accustomed to working with.   

Angela Longman, a Development Support Technician at this facility, says she has previous tried to raise workplace issues to management on her own, but to no avail. “I’ve sent management an email raising staffing issues before, and no one responded.”   

With their plans for childcare and other daily responsibilities upended by these new proposed schedules, Longman and other Local 4041 members circulated a petition requesting a staff and management Health and Safety Committee to be established to address this and other workplace issues. With over 40 signers, they planned to submit the petition and a letter of issues and requests to management.   

During a meeting of facility directors, these AFSCME members presented their petition and issues letter last week. By the end of the day, a memo was sent to all workers at the facility announcing an indefinite pause on the new scheduling procedures.   

“Coming together as AFSCME to present our issues definitely makes a difference than when I tried to go at it alone,” said Longman.