The following is from OPEIU 8:
SEATTLE (Nov. 27, 2023) — Employees at ROOTS Young Adult Shelter have voted overwhelmingly for representation by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 8. The group of 16 case managers, volunteer supervisors, and guest service specialists in Seattle are dedicated to partnering with young adults on their journey to stability and ensuring everyone has a safe place to call home.
ROOTS (Rising Out of the Shadows) employees sought to unionize to improve working conditions, increase transparency and have a chance to be better prepared to support the communities they serve. They join thousands of nonprofit employees across the country represented by OPEIU’s Nonprofit Employees United (NEU).
ROOTS Young Adult Shelter was founded in 1999 and was the first overnight shelter designed to address the unique needs of unhoused young adults, ages 18-25. Since then, ROOTS has grown to provide a myriad of services including: on-site case management, hot meals, laundry facilities, personal hygiene facilities, personal items, and referrals. ROOTS continues to grow to better serve their community and hopes to provide 24-hour programming, housing stabilization program, and wraparound services in the near future. The goal is to build community, providing essential services with an empowerment lens, and a safe place to sleep while experiencing housing instability.
“Unionizing is the only way to increase worker autonomy and ensure full transparency, accountability, and equity,” said Volunteer Supervisor Tabatha Kojima. “Ultimately, we are unionizing for our guests – they deserve staff who aren’t experiencing chronic burnout, financial distress, and compassion fatigue.”
“We at YouthCare are happy to welcome our partners at ROOTS into OPEIU Local 8!” said Aaron J. Shay, Community Street Outreach Worker at Youthcare. “Workers in the field of human services often need to collaborate across organizations to help our clients, and sharing a union will make sure that our colleagues in both groups can keep up the good work for years to come. I know that the team at YouthCare has benefited profoundly from union membership in the forms of benefits, payscale, and scheduling. ROOTS will reap those same benefits soon, and many more. Solidarity!”
OPEIU Local 8 is a progressive, democratically run union working for social and economic justice since 1945. Local 8 represents more than 9,000 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 OPEIU Local 8 is 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.