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Mental Health Organization Employees To Hold Unionization Vote Thursday

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
The Persad Center in Lawrenceville serves the region's LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities through youth-to-senior counseling, programming and outreach.

Lawrenceville-based mental health services organization Persad Center will vote whether to unionize Thursday. The facility has served the local LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities for more than 40 years with locations in Pittsburgh and Washington, Pa.

Therapist Bethany Getgen said the staff hopes a union will increase the organization’s transparencyand accountability. For example, Getgen said when she first started at Persad, she was given outdated employee information that resulted in payroll errors. 

“We are hoping that with the union we can work to clarify policies so we can really focus on working with our clients,” Getgen said.

Twenty-three therapists, case managers, and other employees will be eligible to join the union. Authorization cards were filed with the National Labor Relations Board last month. 

As part of internal changes, Getgen said the union will work to hire staff that reflects the diversity of the center’s clientele and bargain for equitable pay. Ultimately employees say they hope to stabilize the organization to better serve the needs of patients.

“They’re sharing the most difficult aspects of their life with someone,” Getgen said. “I feel they need to be actively working to break down barriers to care, especially with marginalized communities that we work with, like transgender people of color.”

If the majority of staff vote to form a union, the NLRB will certify the union as their representative for collective bargaining. 

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community.