NEWS: Multnomah County Commission Passes Behavioral Health Labor Harmony Policy

October 25, 2021
Contact: David Kreisman, [email protected]

Multnomah County Commission Passes Behavioral Health Labor Harmony Policy
Behavioral Health Professionals To Gain Concrete Protections

In 2017, Oregon AFSCME Council 75 released the United We Heal report, highlighting specific issues facing the behavioral health workforce and the clients they serve every day.

The issues around wages, benefits and workforce development called out in that 2017 report have only grown larger and become more urgent because of the years of underinvestment and the added layer of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This resolution and the executive rule are necessary in ensuring that workers who wish to have a voice in their workplace - have a path to form a union without fear of intimidation and bullying their employer” said Stacy Chamberlain, Executive Director of Oregon AFSCME Council 75.

Employees at at Central City Concern’s Blackburn facility like Brandy Fishback, a Case Manager, faced a volatile anti-union campaign

“We sought union representation after experiencing serious safety issues due to lack of oversight and support, lack of safety protocol and adequate training, and low staffing caused by constant turnover” said Fishback.

Once Fishback and her colleagues filed for election, management began a calculated anti-union campaign that not only led CCC-Blackburn workers to lose their election, but also caused confusion and division among staff, which negatively impacted working conditions and disrupted client care.

Throughout their anti-union campaign, management hosted anti-union “learning fairs,” complete with “union jeopardy,” “Vote CCC Vote NO” pins, misleading literature, and catered lunches.

“It’s been over four months and management has still not delivered on the promises they made during our union campaign-- safety issues have not been addressed, turnover is still high, and we don’t have a voice as frontline staff” said Fishback.

“At the end of the day, if Multnomah County had a Labor Peace agreement in place, management would not have been able to use their resources to actively fight us, and instead would be able to focus on creating solutions with us” continued Fishback.