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Workers at Rogers Mental Health Clinic and Wellpath Santa Cruz jail vote to join NUHW

Over three dozen therapists and clinic assistants from Rogers Mental Health in Walnut Creek and over two dozen workers at the Santa Cruz jail who work for WellPath voted unanimously to join NUHW.

The 32 workers at Rogers overcame a fierce anti-union campaign from the company, which provides outpatient mental health and addiction services to adults, children, and adolescents.

The caregivers include marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical workers, behavior specialists, and professional clinical counselors who are seeking better wages and more manageable caseloads for themselves and better care for their patients. Specifically, they want Rogers to agree to provide more flexible and individual care, longer check-ins, and referrals to appropriate care.

“It was important for us to unionize because we want more time with our patients and they want more time with us,” said Brianna Webb Almanza, an associate therapist at Rogers. “Instead, our patients have left our care feeling that they’ve failed treatment when it’s us (Rogers) who’ve failed them.”

“We are the best advocates for ourselves and our patients, not the administrators, who are several states and levels removed from us,” added Webb, noting that doctors have been fired for advocating for patients and that therapists have been burning out due to unmanageable caseloads. “We want to create an environment where we can do our best work at Rogers for years to come.”

Santa Cruz Jail

Meanwhile, the successful organizing drive at the Santa Cruz Jail expands NUHW’s representation of WellPath workers, who provide medical and behavioral health care to inmates at correctional facilities. NUHW already represents Wellpath workers at jails in Alameda, Sonoma and Stanislaus county jails.

“I’m excited we won our union so we can begin to negotiate for better working conditions and pay,” said Talley Kennedy, a discharge planner at WellPath Santa Cruz jail.

The 25 newest NUHW members include registered nurses, mental health therapists, medical assistants, licensed vocational nurses, discharge planners and substance abuse counselors. They are advocating for better compensation and staffing levels to improve access to care at the jail, where sometimes there are no registered nurses on site to give medications on time to prisoners or enough staff to adequately handle caseloads, which puts everyone at risk.

Both units are now starting the process of filling out bargaining surveys, and bargaining team nominations ahead of contract bargaining.

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