Over the last few weeks, 209 front-line behavioral health professionals with Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare’s Respite and Residential programs have voted overwhelmingly to join Oregon AFSCME Council 75.
The mail-in ballot elections that took place over the past two months included registered nurses, residential counselors, crisis counselors, and others at one of the nation’s leading Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). Now, having secured a strong voice on the job to advance client care and career issues, they will join their coworkers in the Project Respond, Street Outreach and Outpatient units who had previously won their union recognition to bargain a first contract.
“Since the launch of our United We Heal campaign in 2016, more than 1,000 behavioral health and treatment industry workers across Oregon have organized a union with AFSCME in order to address industry-wide issues,” said Oregon AFSCME Council 75 Executive Director Stacy Chamberlain. “These members are working with and caring for those in our community dealing with addiction and mental health - this work deserves respect. That respect comes in the form of reasonable caseloads and staffing ratios, safe working conditions, career development, living wages, and benefits - which we have seen workers win at the bargaining table.”
“I have been with Cascadia for three years which actually qualifies me as a veteran within the Residential unit,” said Hannah Sloane-Barton, a skills trainer within the stabilization treatment preparation program, helping deinstitutionalize clients so they can transition to life within the community. “Now, we can work together to minimize any blind spots when it comes to decisions that impact direct care. Cascadia is not a thing, it is a community made up of the workers and the clients we serve.”
“We are excited to welcome these workers to the Oregon AFSCME family, a family of therapists, case managers, peers, support staff. Together we know we can address the issues and create a behavioral health system that best serves our community” continued Chamberlain.
Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor reacted to the news from Cascadia:
“This is another example of great work by Oregon AFSCME to organize and empower front-line behavioral health workers. Oregon’s unions wholeheartedly welcome Cascadia workers into our movement and we will be with them every step of the way as they negotiate their first contract and beyond. Solidarity is what makes all of us stronger, and we’re proud to have their back!”