February 15, 2019
By Nelson W. Burns, President & CEO, Coleman Professional Services
For many of us, uncertainty has become a way of life in our country. Having barely avoided another government shutdown today, uncertainty is still hurting those least able to cope – those with mental illness or disability can be hit the hardest. And, while the epicenter of government shutdowns is sometimes portrayed as only concerning those in Washington, DC, the impact is being felt in cities, towns, and communities like ours throughout the nation.
“Most of the media attention is placed squarely on federal employees, of which we were very sympathetic to their plight. However, once the government opened their doors up, they received their back pay. Our contract workers did not,” stated Debra Prioletti, Coleman Data Solutions Chief Officer.
What We Do
Coleman Data Solutions is a social enterprise of Coleman Professional Services located in Summit County. About 80% of our employees have disabilities and the enterprise provides an important funding stream for Coleman’s behavioral health services across nine counties.
Coleman Data Solutions offers electronic document management solutions. Our staff provides scanning, data entry, and indexing of vital documents, often completing the cycle through secure data storage and destruction of paper documents for major retailers, school systems, and local governments, to name a few. In a technology driven world, more and more companies see the importance and necessity of digital documents as the foundation of their lifecycle information management to help meet regulatory requirements, improve business information workflow and management, and allow rapid growth of enterprise information
Coleman Data Solutions also maintains several highly mission-critical contracts with two federal agencies: The U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security, employing dozens to perform the highly accurate and time-sensitive work.
How the Shutdown Affected Coleman Data Solutions
As soon as the 35-day Federal Government shutdown began, all vendor payments were frozen. This totaled roughly $300,000 that we did not receive and from which we may never fully recover.
As a result of this and lack of any incoming work from our federal contracts, we were forced to furlough twenty-two employees and significantly reduced the hours of thirty more for the duration of the shutdown. Many suffered financial hardship including reduced health insurance benefits and may have also experienced mental health set-backs.
Unlike federal employees, our workers will not receive back pay. The government shutdown was devastating and impacted employees missed their rent/mortgage payments, car loans, health care insurance premiums and utility expenses.
“In addition, many of our workers had day-to-day expenses they had to significantly reduce during this time,” said Fred Brown, CDS Project Manager.
As the new proposed budget does not include back pay for Federal contract workers, like those at Coleman Data Solutions, I’d like to take this opportunity to urge you to act today in helping to prevent another one.
There are over 100 individuals with significant disabilities employed within the Coleman Data Solutions. And even though many are back to work, the financial implications will grow and more individuals with disabilities will be impacted. They are struggling to pay bills, provide food and shelter for themselves and family members, and acquire necessary medications. In addition, nonprofit organizations like Coleman are financially impacted; our ability to provide services to individuals in our communities is hampered.
How You Can Help
We are all impacted, either directly or indirectly, and those impacts are going to compound over time, so we need immediate support from the entire network to tell Congress to act now. Here’s how:
#1. Immediate action is needed. Congress is deciding whether to authorize back pay for federal contract workers (S.162 and H.R. 678). While many of you have sent letters, more action is needed right away by our network to facilitate a positive outcome for our employees.
Please contact your Members of Congress TODAY to ensure the people we serve are not ignored and we are in the best possible position to provide back pay for Coleman Data Solution employees. Fill out their forms for a meeting with U.S. Senators, Rob Portman & Sherrod Brown, and U.S. Congressmen, Anthony Gonzalez today! You can also tweet your members of Congress to pass back pay legislation for Contract Workers. Act Now!
Disabled employees deserve to be compensated for time missed during the shutdown like their federal worker counterparts. Passage of this legislation will set an important precedent for the future for our employees.
#2. Third, if your business has a need for document management solutions, please reach out to Debra Prioletti at Coleman Data Solutions by calling (330)644-8899, or toll-free 800-929-7243 or email@example.com. She and her team can scope out your needs and give you pricing to complete the project. At Coleman, we generate a flexible solutions package from our variety of document management services to satisfy your organization’s information management needs. Our highly-satisfied clients are thrilled with our 98% accuracy and project completion rates.
#3. Make a donation using our secure server at www.colemanservices.org, click on Ways To Give – donations will be used to help provide our staff and clients impacted purchase grocery gift and gas cards, provide emergency assistance for food and utilities, help with rent or mortgage payments, car loans, heath care premiums and utility expenses
Please help us, help them by keeping our disabled workforce working!