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City eliminates 3 departments

Detroit severs ties to DDHS, DHWP, Workforce Development

By Mike Sandula
The Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — Many city of Detroit workers will be out of a job July 13.

The Detroit Department of Human Services (DDHS) — which was decertified by City Council on June 5 — Workforce Development and the Department of Health and Wellness Promotion (DHWP) were recently shut down by the city of Detroit.

Attorney Richard Mack, of Miller Cohen PLC, said city unions sought an injunction from Wayne Circuit Judge Wendy Baxter. Judge Baxter gave an expedited injunction June 28. An arbitration date is set for July 26.

According to Cecily McClellan, who’s worked as a principal administrator for DDHS on the city’s east side for the last seven years, approximately 95 percent of the department’s 125-employee staff will be laid off July 13.

“This is privatization at the highest level,” McClellan told the Michigan Citizen, referring to what’s happening to the city’s departments as “disaster capitalism.”

McClellan, who turns 60 this year and has been a city employee for 24 years, said she’ll be eligible for retirement. According to McClellan, Younger workers won’t be as fortunate as they’ll be reentering a weak job market and will lose all the paid time off they’d accumulated. “This is beyond vicious,” she says.

Additionally, Mack says, the grant money the city had received will go back to the federal government. “So, you’re laying off people and putting them on the streets and now they’ll be in need of the social welfare money that was just sent back. It’s an absolute shame.”

In May, DHWP’s services were transferred to a private company, Institute for Population Health. The Institute will begin operating Oct. 1 with a budget of $64.5 million, down from $71 million last year.

The Workforce Development’s workload, as well as $50 million in grants, is being handed over to the Workforce Development Board, which is an advisory board not accustomed to handling the practical day-to-day workings of the department, according to Mack.

Contact Mike Sandula at mikesandula@michigancitizen.com

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