DETROIT, Jan. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Albert Garrett, President of Michigan Council 25 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, issued the following statement:
"Following the November, 2012 general election, AFSCME withdrew litigation on behalf of the direct care staff at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans (GRHV). This lawsuit was filed in an attempt to prevent the State of Michigan from privatizing these jobs, and to assure the highest quality of care for these disabled veterans. Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals was unsympathetic, and we have withdrawn the lawsuit.
"Governor Snyder has now moved to resume his program of privatization, and is issuing layoff notices to 138 direct care workers at the GRHV. These state employees will be replaced by employees of a contractor currently known as J2S Healthforce Group, and will receive about half the wages the state workers have earned, and will receive no benefits," continued Garrett.
"What is most amazing is that the Governor shows such lack of concern about the welfare of our nation's heroes; soldiers who were wounded on the battlefield for our freedom," continued Garrett. "If you look at the allegations made in court about the horrible treatment offered by the employees of J2S in the past, it truly shocks the conscience that anyone – let alone our nation's veterans – should be treated in such a manner:
* An invalid veteran fell off of the bed and broke his neck, after a contract CNA left him on the bed, unsecure, and left the room;
* A contract CNA fed a veteran by mouth, when there were specific instructions (including a sign above his bed) indicating that the veteran was not to be fed by mouth. Later, the contract CNA pulled the feeding tube out of the veteran's stomach – the veteran was hospitalized;
* A veteran was injured when a contract CNA was trying to transfer him from the sling to a wheel chair;
* A contract CNA broke the fingers of a veteran, and bragged about it;
* Veterans being dropped by contract CNAs repeatedly;
* Veterans being left in urine-soaked beds for hours on end;
* Contract CNAs literally walking off during their shift, never to return that shift and abandoning the veterans;
The reason for this poor behavior is that the private company – J2S Group – fails to require sufficient experience from its employees, and fails to train its nursing assistants adequately."
"Governor Snyder has claimed his 'right-to-work' laws will produce more jobs for Michigan working families, but the truth is that these laws are only producing jobs on which families cannot live - and each of these jobs is at the expense of a state job, with living wages, decent benefits, and union representation. Further, J2s reportedly has been lax in paying overtime due its employees.
"Governor Snyder's 'right-to-work' laws do not cover Michigan Civil Service workers, like these direct care workers, because the Civil Service system is established in the Michigan Constitution. This is the Governor's reaction to that news: he is attempting to destroy good, union jobs and replace them with privatized, right-to-work jobs," concluded Garrett. "The Governor has claimed to be 'one tough nerd,' but he's working hard to assure he'll be a 'one-term nerd.'"
"It is very clear to me that Governor Snyder is pursuing his own political agenda, without any thought or consideration for us veterans and our families," stated Everett Carr, a disabled veteran residing at GRHV. "Our veterans have given their all to serve our country, and they deserve respect and the very best care we can provide - not to be auctioned off to the lowest bidder!"
Michigan AFSCME Council 25 represents more than 60,000 public workers across Michigan. AFSCME International represents 1.6 million public workers nationwide.
SOURCE Michigan AFSCME Council 25, AFL-CIO