April 21, 2011

ULP (unfair labor practice) complaint filed over contracting out of child welfare case management

The Federation Wednesday (April 20) filed an unfair labor practice complaint over the state’s fast-track contracting out of child welfare services case management – and in part giving the impression the union had agreed to it.

In fact, the union contends in the ULP complaint, it faced months of incomplete bargaining brought on by management delays in the Children’s Administration of the Department of Social and Health Services. 

“The agency has delayed bargaining by feinting, in bad faith, the lack of knowledge that its proposed actions involve bargaining unit work and a lack of knowledge of its own actions or proposed actions,” the union’s complaint says. 

The ULP complaint was filed with the Public Employment Relations Commission.The dispute stems from events sparked by passage in 2009 of 2SHB 2106, which set up a pilot project to privatize child welfare case management in two demonstration sites. The assessment to keep the pilots or expand them statewide was not to be made until 2015. 

But starting in January 2010, the union protested over a series of actions by the Children’s Administration that promoted the contracting out without required bargaining. That culminated in February 2011 when DSHS basically solicited bids to contract out the case management statewide, not just in the two pilot areas. More required bargaining was delayed by the agency for various reasons. 

Meanwhile, management sent an e-mail to bargaining unit members in March 2011 “to the effect that the decision to contract out case management services had already been made and further that the RFP (request for proposal) was the product of bargaining with WFSE,” the union complaint says. Implying that was untrue and amounted to illegal interference with employee rights, the Federation complaint says. 

The union asks PERC to order the Children’s Administration to stop the contracting out until it fulfills its good-faith bargaining obligations with the Federation.

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