Reps add expertise at UAW Community Services EAP Conference

BLACK LAKE, Mich. – More than two dozen Detroit-area UAW and Chrysler Management EAP Representatives attended a UAW Community Services EAP Conference at the Walter and May Reuther Family Education Center here Sept. 29-Oct. 4, 2013.

EAP Reps are amused by one of the props used in the training exercises.

In addition to receiving instruction on UAW-Chrysler EAP policy and procedures, Local Response Team operating guidelines and EAP Self-Audit requirements, the Reps were provided specialized instruction covering critical incident response procedures and mental health first aid. They also served as a “pilot” group for consensus decision-making training.

Training on critical incident response procedures was provided by the Incident Management Team, which has partnered with UAW-Chrysler for more than 20 years. Reps were instructed in the intent and operating philosophy of the critical incident response procedure and their roles in implementing the process.

“This was very useful training,” said UAW Local 412 EAP Rep Gary Bronner.

Training & Treatment Innovations, Inc. instructed our Reps on recognizing and acting on indicators of mental distress that may be exhibited by employees in our workplaces.

UAW Local 212 EAP Rep Edward Debczak (left) talks with EAP Coordinators Brian Dumas (center) and Pete White.

The day-long seminar was interactive and highly acclaimed by attendees, including UAW Local 1248 Rep Joe Gammichia, who said, “I couldn’t have asked for more rounded training.”

The mental health first aid presentation was attended by several guests from other companies who now are considering the course for future education of their own EAP Reps.

John Weyer, on Special Assignment to the EAP National Committee, conducted the pilot presentation of consensus decision-making. The training is designed to enhance the ability of Workplace Violence Prevention Local Response Teams to assess and validate information about a troubled employee or troubling situation and to develop a strategy to safeguard the workplace by preventing an act of violence from occurring or escalating.

The training was based on interactive assessment and decision-making using a consensus of opinion rather than a vote or personality-dominated decision process.

“Consensus decision-making is the fairest way to address everyone’s needs,” Weyer said, and UAW Local 1700 EAP Rep Kendra Thorington-Fox agreed, adding that “when people are in crisis, everyone needs something – but not always the same thing.”

EAP Reps participate in an exercise designed to help them understand what it might be like to hear voices that no one else can hear, a condition which is sometimes a symptom of mental illness.

Kevin O’Connor, also on Special Assignment to the EAP National Committee, conducted an EAP client response exercise in which several different scenarios were presented to the Reps, who collectively provided a step-by-step response to each situation.

“The EAP Reps each have a different style, so they can learn from each other,” O’Connor said

Conference evaluations by the Reps were very positive, and many said the instruction they received was something that could be applied immediately on behalf of their employee clients.

Chrysler EAP Coordinator Brian Dumas agreed with the assessment of UAW EAP Coordinator Pete White, who said, “We gained a greater understanding of mental health and the way it affects people’s lives. Critical incident training was awesome. They answered every question and gave us great examples.

“We came to consensus decision-making ready to work together,” White said, “and I believe everyone left the conference with greater knowledge and appreciation for their respective roles, and better equipped to service the membership.”