In devastating news to already hard-hit Southeastern Ohio, OCSEA members at the Gallipolis Developmental Center learned of a third round of layoffs coming to the center.
Since the beginning of the Kasich administration, more than 140 employees have been laid off from GDC, first in 2010, then in 2013 and now this year. Seven years ago GDC was the largest developmental center in the state. Today, it’s the smallest, with only 57 individuals residing there now.
Activists wonder if the Kasich administration is targeting GDC because of its roots in Appalachia. “Why is it that anything south of I-70 doesn’t matter to this governor?” questioned Chapter Vice Pres. Rosetta Wells. “They say we’re not going to close, but we feel like we’re terminal. We just don’t know when we’re going to die,” said Wells.
“It’s such a part of the fabric of this community. And these are some of the best jobs in the area,” said OCSEA Staff Representative Monty Blanton, who worked there nearly 32 years.
It’s a particularly hard pill to swallow since just last year, DODD Director John Martin told the union there would be no layoffs in the eight DCs that were downsizing, also indicating that the Governor supported that position.
“Governor Kasich broke his promise that there would be no layoffs, period,” said Blanton.
In fact, DODD had recently approached the union about increasing GDCs population by serving individuals who are dually diagnosed. “At the same time they’re engaging me about increasing our population, they had already written a layoff rationale, submitted it to the Department of Administrative Services and had it approved, at the same time they were leading us to believe that there are not going to be any layoffs,” Blanton said to the press.
The community and political leaders have come to the defense of GDC clients and staff. State Representative Ryan Smith, a Republican, not only indicated his disappointment with the layoffs, he blasted the DODD Director John Martin for visiting the local newspaper instead of facing the employees the day the layoffs were announced. “Go face the people and the consequences of what you’re doing,” Smith told the Gallipolis Tribune. “That’s the problem with this (Gov. Kasich’s) administration has had throughout their agencies. Nobody wants to leave the 30th floor and get out of their ivory tower and go find out from the stakeholder the practical application of the decision they are going to make and the consequences that come with it,” he continued.
Union activists at GDC and around the state are not backing down from this one. “We’re going to fight this all the way home,” said Blanton.
Smith condemns layoffs
Gov. ‘broke promise’ with layoffs of Developmental Center