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To: Susan Schonfeld, Community Integrated Services, 441 N. 5th St #101 Philadelphia, PA 19123

Workers of CIS Demand Safety and Dignity for Participants and Staff

Workers of CIS Demand Safety and Dignity for Participants and Staff

We demand:
Scheduling - We ask that CIS develop a scheduling system to be fair and manageable with the workers of the agency. We recognize CIS’s difficulty in trying to maintain a relationship with its many participants; however, coaches need adequate time to learn about new participants, to read their TLFP/ISP, contact their primary, and receive job shadow training in order to provide quality service. Late-night texts to cover shifts or scrambling to get enough "points" to receive the incentive bonus for covering emergency shifts wears coaches down. For this reason, we want a team dedicated exclusively to scheduling. We would like a schedule to be provided for the upcoming week by Sunday.

Participant-Centered Coaching - We want a team approach to coaching. If participants are supported by coaches who are familiar with them and their needs, they will be supported more effectively, consistently, and safely, and able to perform their jobs better. Participants are required to adjust to a new coach often and caseload sizes can be unmanageable. We believe that when working with a participant for the first time, the first-time coach should receive an in-person introduction and training by another job coach who is knowledgeable about that job site and participant. CIS workers have recounted multiple occasions when participants, their families, and job sites have been upset by the lack of consistency and attentiveness.

Training - We want CIS to provide its workers with ongoing training opportunities to promote their direct support potential. The workforce of care and support professionals is in need of serious investment to ensure commitment to the job. In addition to ODP and OVR training requirements and CIS’s company policies that must be followed, we want opportunities for serious professional development. We want training provided to us, such as, but not limited to, conflict-resolution training, ASL training, CPR training, seizure training, and training developed and led by those from the disability community—the community whom we serve. We also want to make sure that training is scheduled and paid within our work week, during the first three months of beginning a new position, and that new hires are provided with adequate supervision and guidance by staff who are compensated for this work. The current system of unpaid, volunteer peer "mentorship" for new staff members is neither fair nor effective.

Break Policy - We want CIS to develop and implement a clear paid break policy that guarantees coaches adequate breaks in between shifts. We want this break policy to be developed with the workers of CIS to ensure it meets the worker's and participants’ needs. Workers have described instances of having to eat in their cars while driving, not eating or drinking between shifts; having no bathroom breaks because they do not have someone to relieve them so they can use the bathroom; no time to process the services just provided before supporting another person; no breaks whatsoever in an entire workday; and confusion about when breaks are allowed, if breaks are allowed, and how breaks are billed for.

Transparency - We request greater communication surrounding billing and the reasoning behind our high billable targets. In addition, for those who are required to drive for their work, driving consumes a large part of the workday. We need time for communication, planning, and research to better support participants. The job is primarily focused on billing rather than providing quality services to people.

Wages and Merit-Based Promotion - We want wages commensurate with the great responsibility we have for supporting another human being in succeeding in their employment and maintaining their health and safety during our shift with them. A higher wage would lead to higher retention of workers and mitigate turnover. Pay raises and promotions also need to be based on merit. It is unclear why some workers get promotions and raises over others.

Safety - We want to be included in the health and safety procedure conversations, with our needs and the needs of the participants prioritized. The workers and participants of CIS have exposed themselves to dangerous health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic and have experienced incidents of total disregard for their safety and wellbeing unrelated to the health crisis. Unreasonable expectations to complete work outside of one’s job responsibilities, knowledge, or skills with little to no support diminishes confidence and morale. Forcing workers and participants to work in potentially violent or unsafe conditions is wrong. We feel that our and the participants’ wellbeing is disregarded. These instances are unacceptable and may not continue. CIS must not only do this for the individuals who experience these issues but must remedy the problems by preventing their future occurrence for all.

Why is this important?

We the undersigned workers of Community Integrated Services are writing to address organizational issues that compromise the sustainability of the participants and the workers, and thus the success of the agency. Despite our being vaccinated, the COVID-19 crisis is still an ongoing issue. The risks we take as frontline workers must be recognized, and safety provisions must continue to be implemented. Workplace issues that existed before the pandemic have been heightened and will persist if they are not resolved.

We understand that we are all engaged in a difficult balancing act between ensuring quality services and safely navigating the pandemic. We want to keep the participants we work with and ourselves safe, and we want to provide quality support, but we are not currently included in addressing the organizational issues of our workplace. We are the frontline workers. We are the majority of the agency. Our input is essential.

Consequently, we respectfully and formally request that Community Integrated Services make improvements to our workplace. We believe that the following failings impair our ability to provide quality support to our participants: the chaotic scheduling system, the dearth of participant-centered training, a lack of training, unclear or non-existent break policy, obscure billing targets, inadequate compensation, and leadership’s failure to sufficiently handle our safety concerns or include us in decisions about worker and participant safety and wellbeing. The current workplace conditions are unsustainable.

In conclusion, addressing the above demands will help the workers of Community Integrated Services feel prepared for their jobs, improve the experience of support for the participants, and help mitigate any potential risks or issues that might arise. We are invested in the agency and want to work together. Our work and the value we bring are essential to keep the agency in business. CIS continues to expand by providing services to more and more participants while not meaningfully investing in the infrastructure or the workers of the organization. The consequence of those decisions is missed opportunities to create sustainability in the job and enduring positive relationships with the community it intends to serve. As CIS grows, we are concerned that the centering of care and attention for the participants will be lost and the workers will be further estranged from the people they are dedicated to supporting. It is people who have disabilities who ultimately experience the greatest detrimental impact from decisions that exclude them, the people that are directly a part of their networks of support, or the systems they are embedded within. This disconnect is especially pronounced in institutions and provider systems created by non-disabled people, which creates a legacy of exclusion that is a part of CIS’s commitment to change. Our wellbeing is connected to each other and the conditions we create together. Please consider our requests and meet with us in good faith to make our workplace better for everyone.

We engage in this collective, concerted activity under the protection of Federal Law, specifically, Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. We are also prepared to engage in further actions that are also protected by the Act, as well as collective action designed to safeguard our immediate health and wellbeing from imminent danger as defined by OSHA, Standard number 1977.12(b)(2).

We look forward to your meeting our requests.


2021-10-06 20:13:21 -0400

50 signatures reached

2021-07-10 13:07:48 -0400

25 signatures reached

2021-06-03 19:04:27 -0400

10 signatures reached