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Oregon Mental-Health Workers Join AFSCME

November 19, 2018

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

PORTLAND, Ore.—After two years of organizing, about 270 mental-health and addiction-recovery workers at Oregon’s largest behavioral health provider voted to join Oregon AFSCME in October and November. The votes came at a mobile mental-health crisis-response team and five outpatient clinics in Portland and its Milwaukie suburb run by the nonprofit Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare. Low pay and heavy caseloads were key issues. Mathias Quackenbush, a counselor and case manager, told NWlaborpress that he has 70 clients and earns $44,500 a year in a position that requires a master’s degree in social work. He said burnout is high: When he arrived, one client told him he’d seen three clinicians in the previous year. The pro-union votes came despite a campaign by Cascadia management, which held multiple anti-union meetings. AFSCME also charges that union supporter Daneen Pray was illegally fired in September after management installed a surveillance camera in her workspace. The pretext, the union said, was that when Pray, who had worked at Cascadia for 16 years, sent a picture of her workload to a union organizer, the image contained a patient’s name.  Read more

November 19, 2018

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