About Your Union

Quick Links

Occasionally doing the right thing is not only simple, but easy. Like joining your union!

Looking for a copy of the contract? Look no further. It’s available online in a variety of formats.

If you need a blank grievance form, click this button. Don’t forget to contact us for support!

Announcements in Brief

Safety

Issues

COVID, direct client services, agency policies, PPE; pre-existing concerns about the safety of work arrangements, both physically and psychologically; what amount to basically forced resignations of workers with documented COVID-related health risks (or with at-risk loved ones).

Updates & Guidance

We expect the labor-management safety committee to begin meeting soon, but we’ve been expecting that for a month or more. In the meantime, workers continue to face what our union maintains to be unacceptable risks related to COVID and other factors. For years, we have looked at various options to begin implementation of a broader behavioral health worker adaptation of a Protest of Assignment form, based on what nursing unions around the country regularly use to document and protest daily work safety issues and client care risks. Given the rapid increase in COVID cases in VT, we can’t afford to wait to discover a perfect rollout method, so here it is.

More specific instructions for this form are coming, but for now: once completed, either email a copy to both your immediate supervisor AND howard.union@gmail.com, or (if you completed it by hand) submit a copy to both your direct supervisor and our union. You can do that by snapping a photo of it with your phone and sending it by email or text, but please remember to observe relevant healthcare privacy laws by leaving out client/patient identifying information.

Please note: Our ability to keep each other safe depends on our collective power and unity. No form or contract clause will make a difference if we are not using every opportunity and available means to help existing non-members join our union. High membership (even better with high member involvement) is the only thing that buys us real herd immunity, and from far more than COVID-related risks. Your membership supports your co-workers. If you don’t directly ask them to support you in the same way by joining, then they won’t. Period.

CTO

Issues

Unreasonable CTO denials (e.g., workers making requests months in advance only to be turned down due to unspecified “staffing concerns”), especially around the holidays; unilateral changes to long-standing past practice within specific sites and programs on how CTO is requested or approved.

Updates & Guidance

CTO requests may not be unreasonably denied. Our contract is clear about this. If your CTO has been denied in a way that most people would consider unreasonable, file a grievance immediately (grievances must be filed within 10 calendar days of the CTO denial). There is a link to the grievance form using one of the buttons under “Quick Links,” or you can get assistance from a steward by contacting us. However, if you and many of your coworkers are also being denied unreasonably, file a mass grievance together or mobilize to take action, and don’t miss the opportunity to build union power by recruiting non-members!

It is absolutely critical that you understand your CTO rights. For more details, consult the Combined Time Off section of our CBA (contract), again using the “Quick Links” section above.


About Your Union

Howard Center Workers’ Union, AFSCME Local 1674, exists to improve working conditions, build solidarity, and fight for better communities for the workers at the Howard Center and the individuals we serve.

The union is the only way to ensure we and our clients are treated with basic fairness, respect, and dignity. We want to help all workers to become actively involved in our union so that we can create a truly client-centered democratic workplace delivering the highest quality of care.

Our monthly meetings are still held on the first Wednesday of every month, from 5:30-7:00PM. However, due to the pandemic, these meetings are now held only on Zoom. Check out the latest bargaining unit email for upcoming meeting details.