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By Kimberley Donoghue
PBN Web Editor
LINCOLN – Fellowship Health Resources Inc., a nonprofit mental health and substance abuse treatment agency, said Wednesday it filed an unfair labor practice charge against a Massachusetts union.
The charge was filed with Region One of the National Labor Relations Board against the SEIU Local 509 in Massachusetts.
The agency claims union representatives used deceptive tactics to obtain signatures on union authorization cards at its locations in Fall River, New Bedford and Cape Cod. FHR has more than 200 workers in Massachusetts, where it provides supportive housing, and community-based flexible supports programs, among others, a spokeswoman confirmed.
The cards indicate a worker’s support for forming a union at their workplace. The union needs more than 50 percent of the employees’ support to start the process.
“SEIU organizers have lied to FHR staff in order to obtain signatures on union authorization cards by claiming to be fellow FHR employees who are merely conducting a ‘survey’, or advocating with a ‘petition’ for more money at the State House,” said FHR President and CEO Joesph F. Dziobek. “In reality, we believe our employees were being deceived into signing union authorization cards.”
“The most offensive aspect about this situation is that the union is aggressively trying to gain access to our residential programs – which are home environments for the individuals served – to pull employees away from their direct care jobs,” he added.
The agency also claims the union organizers have been making visits to the homes of FHR employees.
In response to the press release, union spokesman Aaron Donovan said:
“In January, SEIU Local 509 was approached by a number of caregivers at Fellowship Health Resources who were concerned about safety and staffing at their workplace, and we’ve continued to work with them to address those concerns as they build a union at their agency. Human service workers in Local 509 have a long history of advocating for safer working conditions and are more than happy to partner with Fellowship and other agencies in creating a safer workplace for all caregivers.
“The allegations of the union misleading workers is not only completely baseless, but would be entirely self-defeating. Organizing a union doesn’t work just by signing a piece of paper, it’s about coming together with our co-workers to make improvements for ourselves and the individuals we care for.”
Fellowship Health Resources ranked No. 4 by revenue on the Nonprofit Social Service & Advocacy Organizations list in the 2012 Providence Business News Book of Lists. The organization took in $31.22 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2010.