Outside In Secures Groundbreaking Contract for Behavioral Healthcare Workers

June 7, 2023, Portland, OR - Oregon AFSCME-represented workers at Outside In, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to providing comprehensive behavioral healthcare services in the Portland area, announced the successful settlement of a transformative contract. This landmark agreement marks a significant milestone in improving the recruitment and retention of committed professionals in the field. 

“I'm so proud of what we were able to accomplish!” said Meg Miranda, a Substance Use Disorder Treatment Counselor and bargaining team member. “Because we raised pay and improved benefits, it means we can stay at Outside In rather than leaving for better pay. And that means consistency in relationships with the clients who rely on Outside In services.”

The agreement includes a substantial 37% increase in base pay for the lowest paid employees, ensuring that workers are fairly compensated for their vital contributions to the community, and paving the way toward solving the workforce shortage in this important field. 

Furthermore, the contract addresses the pressing issue of out-of-pocket health insurance costs. Outside In recognizes the importance of affordable and accessible healthcare for its employees and has taken significant steps to reduce these expenses, ensuring that workers have the necessary coverage to support their well-being.

Through the utilization of the United We Heal trust, workers at Outside In will have access to career development apprenticeships to earn certifications such as CADC (Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor), QMHA (Qualified Mental Health Associate), and MA (Medical Assistant).

The organization also agreed to recognize the lived experience of houselessness as a valuable perspective and will consider it when determining wage placement. By valuing and acknowledging this unique experience, Outside In is fostering an inclusive environment that values the diversity of its workforce.

With this contract, the organization will also develop a formal workplace violence plan, improving practices to address staffing vacancies that compromise safety, and establishing accessible channels for front line staff to address acute safety issues. 

“Workers came together to create a safer work environment and enable Outside In to provide an enhanced level of care to the community they serve. This contract embodies that commitment to care and is an investment in the workers who provide such important services” said Stacy Chamberlain, Executive Director of Oregon AFSCME.

“We are thrilled to see that the new Executive Director of Outside In understands the importance of working closely with the local union leadership and workers to address the real issues and create tangible solutions for a safer and more sustainable work environment. This contract represents a commitment to care for both the workers and the community they serve, and we are proud to have played a role in making it happen," said Stacy Chamberlain, Executive Director of Oregon AFSCME.

Outside In workers are excited about the positive changes this groundbreaking contract will bring to their workplace and to the behavioral healthcare workforce in Oregon as a whole.