The Stand

Crisis Connections employees join together with OPEIU 8

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The following is from OPEIU Local 8:

SEATTLE (July 13, 2020) — Employees at Crisis Connections have voted overwhelmingly for representation by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 8.

The group of 133 mental health professionals, crisis intervention specialists, public resource specialist, recovery specialist, phone workers, and volunteers in Seattle are dedicated to providing resources for the emotional and physical needs of hundreds of individuals across Washington state every day. They sought to unionize to improve working conditions, increase transparency and have a chance to participate in decisions about their operational protocols that impact the communities they serve. Crisis Connections employees join thousands of nonprofit employees across the country represented by OPEIU’s Nonprofit Employees United (NEU).

Crisis Connections was founded in 1964, is one of the oldest Crisis Lines in the nation, and includes five programs focused on serving the needs of individuals in Washington State: the 24-Hour Crisis Line, King County 2-1-1, Teen Link, WA Recovery Help Line, and WA WARM Line. The collective programs help connect communities with resources for mental health crisis, emotional support, shelter, disability services, educational resources, food security, teen crisis support, substance use recovery, peer support for mental health challenges, professional training, and much more. The goal is to provide support and guidance for individuals and families facing crisis, offer training in crisis skills, and help communities access the public resources in their area.

“In union, there is strength” said Jacinta Lowe, Call Screening and Coordination Specialist.

“I believe unionizing will help us to engage in constructive dialogue with management about how to shape our workplace to ensure a high quality of services for individuals in crisis and a sustainable environment for staff” said Violet Neitzel, Crisis Intervention Specialist.

“Unionizing helps all staff at crisis connections feel more confident in advocating for their needs and having their voices heard when crucial decisions are made. I want to see our hard working staff and volunteers better supported and retained so we can cultivate the fully staffed and highly trained crisis line that our communities deserve!” said Robert Hardy, CLE Lead Crisis Intervention Specialist.

Jonass Placitis, Volunteer Services Coordinator adds “Without labor nothing prospers.”

OPEIU Local 8 is a progressive, democratically run union working for social and economic justice since 1945. Local 8 represents more than 7,000 members all over Washington state working in many settings including offices, health and home care, housing, social services, the insurance industry, legal services and the public sector. Social service workers are some of the hardest-working, lowest-paid and most essential members of our community, which is why we’re proud to represent workers at prominent Washington State nonprofits such as Solid Ground, Plymouth Housing, Low Income Housing Institute, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Northwest Justice Project, YouthCare and many others.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Want your voice heard at work? Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate a voice on the job and a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

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