Local 642 has negotiated modifications to its contract with Harborcreek Youth Services that bring improved pay and union protections to therapists who joined the union in May. The local had earlier negotiated a voluntary recognition agreement by which management accepted the therapists’ desire to join Local 642 in its existing bargaining unit, which had consisted of counselors at HYS, a facilty for at-risk adolescents.
The existing Local 642 contract gives employees four percent in raises each year – two percent each March and two percent in September. The contract amendments immediately brought the therapists both of the 2007 raises, and they will be covered by the future raises. They also gained educational assistance of up to $4oo a year for work-related courses, certifications and license renewal.
Therapists had previously been required to work unlimited hours with no additional pay. The contract now establishes a standard 40-hour workweek for therapists, with compensatory time for hours worked in excess of 40. They will also receive eight hours of comp time for each overnight trip required by the job, and double comp time for any holidays worked.
Another important issue for therapists was the need to limit their caseloads – which have at times been excessive. The agency agree to meet with the union over caseload concerns and to make a good faith effort to resolve such issues.
The contract also adds provisions for qualified counselors to bid on openings for therapists and to be preferred over non-employees. Mike Hardner, chief steward of Local 642 and formerly a counselor, was the first to use this new bidding opportunity, and he is now a therapist. "We did a good job, and we benefitted from good communication with the membership, " he said. "We got the things the therapists wanted – defining the hours of work, comp hours, reimbursement for classes. People are happy with it. Communication with the agency has also gotten better."
The bargaining committee consisted of Mark Musone, Karen Braendal, Local President Rob Matz, and Mike Hardner. They were assisted by International Rep. Deb Gornall.