Groden Center behavioral specialists announce strike for Aug. 17

This article has been updated with comment from The Groden Network.

PROVIDENCE – District 1199 SEIU New England, representing Groden Center behavioral specialists as they negotiate a new contract, has announced a strike for Friday, citing unfair labor practices by the nonprofit school for children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

“This is an unfair labor practice strike,” wrote Emmanuel Falck, spokesman for the union.

The strike is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Groden North School, 86 Mt. Hope Ave., Providence, with a community rally scheduled for 1 p.m.

Groden Network CEO Laurie Vinkavich-Cole said classes have been canceled at the school for that day and that they are working with public safety officials to ensure the safety of the property and the community at large during the strike.

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The union issued a strike notice to The Groden Network, which operates The Groden Center, on Aug. 3. The union gave the notice after a two-hour meeting between the respective parties’ negotiation teams and a federal mediator, according to a statement from The Groden Network at the time.

District 1199 SEIU New England said in a statement that members issued the strike notice due to The Groden Network’s continuing refusal to address safe staffing concerns and high turnover. The union stated the strike notice was also in response to management refusing to share information regarding how much the center is spending on temporary staff.

The latter complaint is the subject of an unfair labor practice complaint filed by the union with the National Labor Relations Board. The Groden Network contests the relevance of the information in the dispute, said Catherine Nassa, director of marketing and development at The Groden Network, at the time.

Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@PBN.com