From ODJFS Assembly President Cindy (Bobbitt) Hill
I am writing you today to give an update on an ODJFS announcement made yesterday regarding yet another proposed reorganization, this time within the Office of Workforce Development. It will impact OCSEA members who work in Ohio Means Jobs Customer Service Representative classifications.
Management has indicated that there are excesses in services in some workforce development regions and deficiencies in others, both which need to be addressed. Management says the strategic OWD realignment plan would keep but realign seven regions and adjust staffing to address workload imbalances on both the bargaining unit and management levels. The plan would also develop a Trade section to help adequately meet federal trade commitments, keep up with trade-related workloads and maintain much-needed trade assistance funding. The realignment is to be completed by October 3.
For months we’ve been hearing about the potential for a “methodology plan” to realign CSRs in areas that are in need and to assist with workflow. While the union is the first to advocate for the necessity of “accelerating the employment success” of every Ohioan, the union was not involved in the development of this plan. It was only this week that union leaders learned the full details, just a day prior to management sending out their statement to staff.
When the union requested that the announcement be put on hold until labor and management could discuss a proper roll out, management stated that they had a timeline and needed to move forward. OWD indicated that the longer the state struggles to properly provide trade assistance, the more harm it could mean to Ohio and trade services. Despite our persistence, management's right to determine excesses under Article 5 of the OCSEA Contract superseded the union's contention.
OWD will hold a voluntary canvass of impacted employees between now and August 17. The canvass will be conducted only with the staff in centers where excess has been determined. Management says the voluntary canvass will assist with re-locating staff to centers with a need and further their development of the Trade section. I reiterate, this canvass is purely voluntary! And the union will work hard to ensure that our members avoid any and all unnecessary disruptions to their work and home lives.
OCSEA has secured a commitment from OWD that the union will be heavily involved to uphold member rights guaranteed under the OCSEA Contract and to ensure that members are impacted as little as possible. The union has also secured that a meeting with management will take place once the voluntary canvass is completed to determine next steps.
The ODJFS Assembly leadership encourages all impacted CSRs to voice any concerns they may have with management and their local union leaders. Management touts an open door policy, so we urge anyone impacted to contact OWD Deputy Director John Weber and OWD Assistant Deputy Director Ryan Thompson with any concerns
The union will also continue to actively and strongly encourage ODJFS management to include OCSEA and its union members in future decision-making processes. Inclusiveness and partnership between labor and management in state government is a best practice that should not be ignored, for the benefit of state employees and the taxpayers we serve.