The Stand

Olympia mental health workers reach deal, averting strike

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UPDATE: (Sept. 14) — Mental health workers at Behavioral Health Resources reached a tentative contract agreement with management early Wednesday morning, averting a planned one-day strike. More than 200 mental health workers were set to strike on Thursday over management’s unfair labor practices and refusal to reach a contract settlement despite workers’ agreement to economic savings similar to those requested by management. The mental health workers will vote on the proposed agreement Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 19 and 20.

OLYMPIA (Sept. 13) — Mental health workers at Behavioral Health Resources, Thurston County’s primary mental health service provider, are making strike preparations Tuesday evening in advance of a one-day unfair labor practice strike to be held Thursday, Sept. 15.



The 220 mental health care workers, members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, are prepared to strike to protest management’s unfair labor practices and refusal to reach a fair contract despite workers’ agreement to economic savings similar to those requested by management.

In response to state budget cuts and an operating deficit, the mental health workers have agreed to economic sacrifices that would cover the financial shortfall. In exchange workers have asked management to make a commitment to current staffing levels that would protect programs and services, unless there are further cuts to funding.

A settlement was not reached after negotiations continued Friday. The mental healthcare workers will meet with management at Behavioral Health Resources Tuesday to resume negotiations in a last-ditch effort to avert the strike.

Behavioral Health Resources is the primary provider of mental health services in Thurston, Mason and Grays Harbor Counties, with facilities dedicated to psychiatric care, crisis triage, addiction recovery and housing for mentally ill and chronically homeless clients.

The current contract expired March 31, 2011.

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW represents 22,000 nurses, healthcare employees, and mental health workers in hospitals, agencies, and clinics statewide. For more information, contact the union at 425-917-1199.

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