Residential treatment employees at Janus Youth Programs in Portland voted 26-12 to join Oregon AFSCME. There are 49 employees in the bargaining unit. They will join Local 1790, newly established for Basic Rights Oregon employees.
Janus Youth is a private non-profit that operates around Portland. The clients range from age 13 to 21, with those 18 and older housed separately from the younger kids.
“Our new members are primarily case managers and skills trainers,” said Council 75 Organizer Doug Lantz, the lead AFSCME staffer on the organizing campaign. “They work with the youth in treatment programs, teaching them a wide range of topics from basic life skills to job searching.”
Lantz said a group of Janus workers contacted AFSCME about six months ago expressing a desire to join the union. He says economics was a key issue, but not the only factor.
“A lot of these workers have college degrees, and this is the field they want to work in, making a difference in young peoples’ lives,” Lantz said. “But at Janus, many are barely above minimum wage. So that is big factor, as they want to create new standards that will allow them to be able to afford to stay at Janus. And they’d like to see just better overall accountability for and from management. ”
First contract negotiations will begin soon.
A separate group of five professionals at Janus voted 3-2 not to unionize with the bargaining unit.
Janus workers at the Street Light/Porch Light homeless youth shelter are represented by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Local 650.