Page 11 - Work Force February 2017
P. 11

February 2017
The Work Force 11
BROOKLYN — Chandra Brown begins preparing for her workday at 3 a a a a a a m and is never sure when her day will end In recent months Brown a a a a direct support assistant (DSA) based at at a a a a a a a a state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities group home in Brooklyn has been mandated to work two three and and sometimes even
four consecutive shifts by her supervisors Tired and frustrated she mostly worries about the time spent away from her 4 year old daughter and not being able to give the the the the individuals she cares for on the the the the job the the the the quality care care they deserve “[My daughter is] at a a a a a a young and impressionable age ” said Brown 39 who drives from her Bronx home to Brooklyn after dropping her her her daughter with
a a a a a a a caretaker to to take take her her her to to her her her Pre-K class Brown’s daughter has already missed five days of
school due to her her mother’s hectic work schedule Brown and many of
her co-workers are facing similar scenarios throughout the state A report released by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in 2016 listed OPWDD as as the the state agency with
the the highest number of
overtime hours at 4 4 4 566 814 with
nearly 45 percent of
its workers receiving $150 million in in overtime pay Workers say mandatory overtime and and time time away from their families is becoming the the norm Because of
minimum staffing levels at OPWDD residences and group homes that have have replaced many centralized care facilities workers have have been told that they can’t leave the the the premises on their lunch breaks “We cannot work below our minimum [staffing levels] ” said Brooklyn Developmental Center Local President Faye Wilkie- Fields “It doesn’t leave room for anyone to get get a a a a day off or or even
get get out for for lunch because the minimums are strictly enforced ” Making a a a a bad situation worse
Gov Andrew Cuomo’s 2017- 18 state budget proposal makes things even
on OPWDD workers who are already stretched too thin because of
understaffing The governor
is proposing to cut about 250 full-time positions in in the agency through attrition While many of
the the cuts stem from the the upcoming closure of
Bernard Fineson Developmental Center in in Queens those who care for our state’s most vulnerable individuals are being unfairly asked to do more
less once again Bernard Fineson’s
impending closure as as as well as as as last
year’s closure of
Brooklyn Developmental Center are part of
OPWDD’s plan to close many of
its larger care care facilities and transition care care to community-
based services often provided by not-for-profit corporations As a a a a a result of
policies at at at the the state level over the the the last
few years the the delivery of
care for individuals with
developmental disabilities and mental mental illness is is dramatically changing Under the the guise of
the the U U S Supreme Court Olmstead decision which holds that individuals in in need of
services must receive the least restrictive care option that is appropriate to one’s needs the state has been reducing services it provides
to this vulnerable population and and relying on on on community organizations and and nonprofits
to provide provide care the state has traditionally provided OPWDD workers fear an an increase in in mandatory overtime while families worry that the high level of
care provided to their loved ones at at state OPWDD facilities may be disrupted or reduced as the state transitions services Many workers have also expressed concerns over onerous and arbitrary disciplinary practices being meted out by the state’s Justice Center In many cases workers who had been suspended or or disciplined have been vindicated and made whole In the the meantime the the huge number of
workers who get cited
on a a a a regular basis means fewer workers at at OPWDD facilities which translates into mandatory overtime Brown said she has always worked some mandatory overtime since starting at Brooklyn Developmental Center in 2010 but never at the present levels “I don’t mind working ” she said “I “I know that I I can do it on some weekends but during the week week it’s hard because of
my child care ” Citing some of
the the burdens
our members and the the individuals have had to endure since the closure of
Brooklyn Developmental Center Wilkie- Fields said workers are angry and tired “We are in such a a a a a deplorable situation ” said Wilkie-Fields “I can’t can’t see see the the individuals being happy and and I can’t can’t see see them getting the the right and and adequate amount of
care Our workers are are suffering from fatigue How can they offer their best?”
— David Galarza
Chandra Brown prepares a a a a a a a meal for individuals residing at the Brooklyn group home where she works “I can’t see the individuals being happy and I can’t see them getting the the right and adequate amount of
care Our workers are are suffering from fatigue How can they offer their best?”

   9   10   11   12   13