GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Caseworkers from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services picketed outside the Kent County location Wednesday.

Ongoing staffing shortages and a backlog of casework are two of the most pressing issues for these workers, who are represented by the United Auto Workers Union.

On Wednesday, about a dozen caseworkers picketed outside Kent County’s department asking for politicians and the Legislature to pass more funding that they say their department desperately needs. Not only are they dealing with staffing shortages, but picketers say their technology is also outdated and faulty.

“This department is in crisis and our caseworkers, the UAW 6000 members who are child protective service workers, foster care workers … they are overwhelmed,” Ray Holman, UAW 6000 reporting secretary said. “And we have the awesome responsibility to protect the most vulnerable citizens in this state, but we don’t have the tools to effectively do the job … We need more staff and we need more staff now.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provided a statement Wednesday:

We value the contribution of every (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services) MDHHS team member to deliver much-needed assistance to Michigan families. We are all on one team working with one goal: to better serve Michiganders each day. Part of that means delivering competitive pay, premium health care/dental/eye benefits, access to a 401k that has a higher match than most employers and flexibility on work-from-home. The department has been successful in hiring more staff recently — thanks to their competitive compensation — which will help ease workload and ensure caseworkers can give their undivided attention to Michiganders who need help. We will continue to make improvements in partnership with UAW Local 6000 and all our other world-class unions that represent hardworking Michiganders in MDHHS.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services