May 13, 2011

Personnel director delays social worker title change to allow impact bargaining

Thanks to letters and phone calls from Federation social worker members and a union presentation today, state Department of Personnel Director Eva Santos this morning (May 12) delayed until August approval of the name change to the social worker series.

Santos took the action after Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux requested the postponement to allow required bargaining over the impacts of the name change and the new Social Worker title protection bill that the governor signed into law April 15. That law, ESSB 5020 takes effect Jan. 1, 2012.

DSHS asked Santos to approve the name change from social worker to social service case specialist. The agency argues the new title is broader and better encompasses the work performed by the current social workers.

But Devereux said bargaining over the impacts of the name change, especially in light of ESSB 5020, needs to take place first.

“Not only is the change proposed here today a seismic mental shift for our members, we also believe absent impact and contractual bargaining, it violates the (contract),” Devereux said at this morning’s DOP Director’s Meeting.

“Now that everyone knows the outcome of the title protection bill, we can move on with impact bargaining and complete our contractual mandate. We would like to do that without DSHS saying the train has already left the station at DOP.”

Santos made it clear while she will delay the matter until her Aug. 11 meeting, she does intend to approve the title change then.

The postponement allows bargaining over the impact of the separate legislation, too.

ESSB 5020 says that a person may only use the designation of “social worker” if the person is licensed by the Department of Health as a social worker, or has graduated with at least a bachelor’s degree from a social work educational program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

However, thanks to member testimony and communications with legislators and Federation lobbyists’ work, ESSB 5020 “grandfathered” in current state social workers. So the new certification requirement does not apply to state social workers on job before Jan. 1, 2012, so long as the person stays employed with the state.

No comments: