Addiction treatment workers unionize

The Volunteers of America union organizing committee.
The Volunteers of America union organizing committee.

Workers at a pair of Medicaid-funded in-patient residential alcohol and drug treatment facilities in Portland voted 46 to 3 to unionize with Oregon AFSCME in ballots counted Sept. 28. The unit of 61 workers is employed by the Oregon chapter of non-profit Volunteers of America.

For their work helping addicts recover in a six-month program of court-ordered treatment, they’re paid as little as $10 to $12 an hour. So when VOA management brought in the Lane Powell law firm at hundreds of dollars an hour, the firm’s cookie-cutter anti-union campaign fell flat: After multiple anti-union meetings held by management, just three workers voted against the union.

AFSCME represents Volunteers of America employees in New York and New Jersey, as well as non-profit workers in Portland who do similar work.

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