By COLIN STAUB
Workers at New Avenues For Youth asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Feb. 16 to schedule a union election, after the Portland nonprofit declined their request for voluntary union recognition. In the upcoming election, the unit of 118 workers will decide whether to be represented by Oregon AFSCME.
New Avenues For Youth provides services for homeless young people, including meals, rest areas, showers and internet access, as well as longer-term help getting into transitional housing or applying for work. Workers announced a union drive in December, saying they are “under-compensated, under-resourced, under-trained, and under-valued.” New hires at New Avenues for Youth burn out quickly, driving high turnover at the organization.
Union supporters walked into executive director Sean Suib’s office Dec. 6, presented their reasons for unionizing, and requested voluntary recognition. Organizer Colin Parker told Suib that workers wanted a collaborative arrangement, with management embracing rather than fighting the union. Management declined voluntary recognition by letter the following week.
At press time, no date had been set for the election. If they unionize, the workers will be in AFSCME Local 1790, which represents workers at other local nonprofits, including All Good Northwest, Janus Youth Programs, Lines for Life, and Outside In.