Our Union has some good news to share about our recent meeting with LA County Aging & Disabilities Department management.
Member leaders of our Union – along with SEIU 721 President and Executive Director David Green – recently met with department director Dr. Laura Trejo along with two members of her administrative team.
Here are the issues we discussed:
- Management disbanded some special units – including the High-Risk Mobile Response Team, Centralized Intake Unit and the After-Hours Unit. We proposed bringing back the disbanded units to restore those services. Director Trejo was especially interested in the impact of disbanding the After-Hours Unit and stated that she would make it a priority to discuss this unit with her managers.
- Management office requirements on scheduled protected time days prohibit workers from making house calls to clients. We proposed reactivating the mobile units that keep workers in the community with closer client contact and to stop the scheduled protected time in the offices. Director Trejo stated that she was unaware that workers were not able to make house calls and specifically stated that she would talk to her managers about the inconsistency in communication regarding the intent of protected time.
- Unmanageably high caseloads are compromising the safety of the aged population. We proposed that the department work with our union to recruit, retain and develop new employees. Director Trejo recognized the importance of labor in this arena and committed to partnering with our Union to ensure that social workers grow within the department.
- We insisted that management respect the decisions of supervisors as they relate to performance evaluations, IR downgrades, and approval of staff time. Director Trejo acknowledged the Union request, particularly when it comes to the inability of supervisors to downgrade IRs, and she committed to discuss this issue with her managers.
- We demanded that management adhere to our MOU and the County Code.
Dr. Trejo and her assistant director had many questions. Management asked for specifics and we were happy to provide them. As one example, an administrator asked us, “For clarification, you’re saying you’re made to stay in the office twice a week as protected days?” And we said, “Yes!”
They heard us out. And they knew all about the importance of our Joint Labor Management Committee, which we appreciate.
But we expect to see some changes. Dr. Trejo’s words were positive, and we hope to see some positive changes in Aging and Disabilities. As member leader Roberto Fonseca said, “Everything has been presented to her.” So, the ball is in her court, and we are waiting for a response.
This meeting was just the beginning of what we hope is a positive collaboration between our Union and departmental executive leadership.
And this collaboration between the Union and County management is critical to properly addressing the issues that impact the growing aging population in LA County. According to the County’s own data, Los Angeles County’s two million residents aged 60+ are expected to near three million – 28% of the County’s population – by 2030. The California Department of Aging predicts a 171.30% increase of adults over the age of 60 between 2010 and 2060. Our clients deserve the best care possible. As social work professionals, we know what is the best standard of care. We have the training, the expertise, and the frontline experience.
The quality of our work environment directly impacts the quality of services we can provide – and we hope management continues to recognize this fact as they so clearly did when we met.
We will continue to send you updates. We will be meeting with Director Trejo again in about 30 days, and we will resume our labor-management committee meetings in the next year. For now, stay supportive of each other and stay #UnionStrong.