Antonia Jimenez, director of LA County’s Department of Public Social Services (DPSS), acknowledged Wednesday that there are issues with management’s proposed “task-based” work system that need to be addressed.
After hundreds of DPSS workers rallied at the agency’s headquarters in the City of Industry, Jimenez also agreed to meet with SEIU 721 leaders to tackle concerns about the impact recent changes by management have had on workers and clients. And she disavowed a prior comment saying she didn’t care about the contract of DPSS workers represented by the union.
Chanting slogans and carrying signs saying, “More Care, Less Stress in DPSS” and “Don’t Crush our Human Touch,” DPSS workers rebuked management’s so-called “task-based” workload standards at Wednesday’s rally.
The new work system would turn the county’s social services administration into an assembly line and eliminate the time and space frontline professionals have to build trust with their clients — disrupting connections to critical social services, such as food, emergency housing, healthcare, and counseling. The move is especially egregious as clients continue to face challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Workers also delivered a petition to Jimenez signed by thousands calling on management to maintain “client-based” work standards — which ensures that DPSS employees can provide clients the personal attention they need to be connected to all services to which they are entitled in a timely, courteous, and thorough manner.
DPSS workers have been sounding the alarm for weeks at rallies across LA County, decrying management’s efforts to implement “task-based” workload standards. The unnecessary change forces clients through a rushed and increasingly impersonal process — an unacceptable outcome that goes directly against DPSS’ mission, jeopardizing the quality of care provided to clients at the very moment when they need high-quality services most.
The “task-based” system also violates the contract of DPSS workers represented by SEIU Local 721 — which states that the agency will use “client-based” workload standards.
When the DPSS workforce recently called attention to concerns about proper client service exacerbated by job condition contract violations, Director Jimenez declared, “I don’t care about your contract.”
David Green, SEIU 721 president and a veteran social worker, said at Wednesday’s demonstration: “If we’re unified, there’s nothing that can stop us! Because at the end of the day, it’s about dignity and respect for our clients, our community, and for us as public sector employees!”