Member Story – Joyce Wheeler-Owens


“Stay calm and carry on.”

With tens of thousands of Californians suddenly out of work, our member leader Joyce Wheeler-Owens and her colleagues at the Employment Development Department are working to make a difference.  

In response to an unprecedented spike in unemployment applications—from hundreds per day to more than 100,000 per week—EDD employees are stepping up, in many cases working 2-5 hours of overtime daily, seven days a week.

“We’re working to keep Californians housed and fed,” Joyce says, “We know in times like this, every minute and every dime count, and we’re processing applications as fast as we can.”

Joyce works at the EDD office in San Diego as an Employment Program Representative with more than a dozen years’ experience with the state.

EDD is currently using a combination of telework and in-office work for its employees. “We’re dealing with not only an accelerated workload but with the need to establish new processes as more employees are working from home,” Joyce said. Much of the work is being done “off the phone” to process and pay claims more quickly.

Dealing with a situation that literally changes hour-by-hour demands a close working relationship between management and Local 1000. As statewide EDD leaders monitor the incoming workload, they’re moving responsibilities and dividing work amongst the offices. Likewise at the branch level, union leaders are helping to mitigate stress and anxiety.

“There’s a bigger exchange of ideas going on, learning strengths we didn’t know we had. We’re creating solutions to make the job more efficient and the working conditions safer,” Joyce said. “In this crisis, we’re taking care of each other personally and professionally.”

Joyce reports that other members of her DLC 701 are also keeping in touch and supporting each other during the crisis. “We’re facing a combination of being comfortable and safe while working while keeping our families safe as well.” Meanwhile, she’s following the same advice she’s giving to others: “Stay calm and carry on.”