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Friends of Youth staff joins together with OPEIU 8

KIRKLAND, Wash. (Feb. 23, 2024) — Employees at Friends of Youth have voted overwhelmingly for representation by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 8.

The group of 125 youth specialists, case managers, therapists, on-call staff, coordinators, administrative staff, facilities and other classifications in Seattle are devoted to providing youth and families with critical services including shelter, supportive housing, transitional housing, rapid re-housing, housing navigation support, safe place & street outreach, and behavioral health services. They sought to unionize to ensure greater equity and transparency and to have the ability to participate more fully in decisions that impact the community they serve. The Friends of Youth employees join thousands of nonprofit employees across the country represented by OPEIU’s Nonprofit Employees United (NEU).

Friends of Youth was created in 1951 to address the shortage of foster homes for youth. Today, Friends of Youth has grown to not only provide foster homes, but homeless shelters, transitional living homes, refugee and asylum seeker transitional housing, and behavioral and mental health services for youth and young adults.

“I am excited for this new opportunity to work collaboratively with our senior and executive leaders in a way my coworkers have never been allowed to before,” said Eric Tilton, Youth Specialist. “The staff at Friends of Youth hold so much knowledge about the needs of the youth we serve because of how closely we work with our clients. I am excited for us to finally be able to use that knowledge to advocate for better working conditions for ourselves, as well as better services for our clients.”

“It is an honor to be able to be more actively involved in the impact that an organization like Friends of Youth has for the community, for its clients, and for its employees,” said KayLee Hunt MSW, LSWAIC, Youth and Family Therapist. “As an organization that advocates for equity, collaboration, trauma-informed practice, and cultural competence in the services it provides, it makes sense that those of us who work directly with clients would want to participate more and be more active in how we can support one another.”

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, non-profit housing and human services, the insurance industry, legal services and the public sector.

Non-profit housing and human 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 YouthCare, Solid Ground, Plymouth Housing, Low Income Housing Institute, Compass Housing Alliance, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Northwest Justice Project, and many others.


READY FOR A VOICE AT WORK? Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate for better wages and working conditions. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!