Support staff at the Community Health Centers of Burlington (CHCB) voted yesterday to join Community Health United, part of AFT Vermont . Support staff cited improved wages, fair and consistent pay scales, and safe staffing as key issues prompting the organizing drive. The union and CHCB administration maintained a high degree of respect and collaboration throughout the process, agreeing to a Code of Conduct agreement that committed both parties to creating an environment free from intimidation, coercion or harassment that would influence the independence of the upcoming vote. Both parties are committed to maintaining ongoing collaboration and mutual respect in the shared goals of serving our communities with the highest level of care.
Community Health Centers CEO Jeff McKee stated: “We share whole heartedly the belief that our staff at every level of the organization have been the key to our incredible success over the past fifty years and will continue to be the foundation for the next fifty years. We fully support them coming together with a collective voice to ensure the highest degrees of fairness and transparency throughout the organization. Together and aligned we will ensure our ability to fulfill our mission of service to ALL within the community.”
“Our ability to work cooperatively in the process leading up to today’s election is incredibly positive for our CHCB staff and the community we serve,” said Andrea Solomon, a physician assistant at the Riverside Health Center and president of Community Health United. “We are looking forward to our ongoing work with our Administrative team to jointly make CHCB the best it can be.”
The 153 support staff include a range of professions, including medical and dental assistants, patient service and referrals representatives, schedulers, medical assistants, and other patient-facing and clerical support staff positions. The group joins the other 100 nurses, physician assistants, doctors, and social workers at the Community Health Centers of Burlington who organized with AFT-Vermont in 2019.
Support staff began their drive for representation amidst the stresses of the global pandemic. Brandon Lawson, a medical assistant at the Riverside Health Center, said, “Quality healthcare relies not only on doctors and nurses, but on medical assistants, front desk staff, lab techs, referrals specialists, and so many other support roles. We are essential to quality patient care, and we came together with the goals of improving wages, benefits, and working conditions.”
Community Health Centers of Burlington is a Federally Qualified Health Center serving more than 32,000 patients with nine practices in Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties. They provide integrated primary care, psychiatric, mental health, and dental care on a sliding fee basis.
AFT Vermont represents over 6000 higher education and healthcare professionals at UVM Medical Center, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, Porter Medical Center, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the Community Health Centers of Burlington, the University of Vermont, the Community Colleges of Vermont and Vermont State University.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- The final count in the election monitored by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was 59 to 11.