By Noah Wass
In an unfair labor practice charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) June 25, Oregon AFSCME says De Paul Treatment Centers is refusing to negotiate in good faith over a first contract.
De Paul Treatment Centers voluntarily recognized the union last September after a majority of the addiction recovery agency’s 122 employees signed union authorization cards. But only three bargaining sessions have been held since then. AFSCME organizer Anna Peña says getting management to schedule a bargaining session has been a serious challenge.
“In early February we proposed a date,” Peña said. “That didn’t work, so we proposed five additional dates for March. None of those worked, but then they decided on April 9, but they canceled. April 10, I suggested three more dates and they said they did not foresee any meetings until May, which never happened. We didn’t have an opening session until June 11.”
The problem is that DePaul is insisting on scheduling bargaining sessions during work hours—and refusing to pay union bargaining team members for their time—so workers must either lose wages or use paid time off in order to take part in negotiations. Only two members were able to attend the July 9 session. A third bargaining session was set for Aug. 5, after this issue went to press.
“We are in the middle of a pandemic and management is telling us to use our sick time so we can attend bargaining sessions,” said Erika LaCarney, an addictions counselor in the adult residential program. “We just want a fair contract.”
Non-profit De Paul Treatment Centers provides addiction recovery services to adults and youth experiencing drug addiction and related mental illness at its primary facility at 1312 SW Washington St. and satellite locations at 4310 NE Killings-worth St. in Portland and 205 SE Third Ave. in Hillsboro. Workers unionized in order to do something about low wages and high turnover.