Mental Health Workers' Rally for Justice is April 1

Andrew Berger has worked in Northampton for a government-funded agency for almost four years. His title is clinical mental health counselor. He and his 350 or so co-workers might go on strike if an upcoming rally for justice doesn't result in a fair union contract, Berger told the Valley Post on March 27. “Going on strike is a possibility,” he said. “We have been negotiating for five months and management hasn't budged. We aren't adequately paid.”

Berger said many of his co-workers succumb to pressure from management to work more than 40 hours a week, even though they only get paid for 40 hours. He said that 28 percent of his 354 co-workers are paid less than $15 an hour. Advanced degrees are required for mental health workers; many of the workers have student loan debt.

Mental health workers help prevent suicide, one of the nation's leading causes of death. Suicide is almost twice as common as murder in the United States.

Berger is asking the public to attend the 9 a.m. rally on April 1 in Northampton. The rally will be at 8 Atwood Drive. A strike will only happen if a majority of the workers vote to go on strike.

The workers are employed by www.csoinc.org. The agency gets about two-thirds of its funding from the government. Funding for higher wages could come from raising taxes on millionaires.

In 2011, there were 11,557 Massachusetts residents who made over $1 million a year, according to the state tax department.

More information about the rally is available from Jerry Levinsky. He works for the union that Berger and his co-workers belong to: www.seiu509.org. Levinky's office phone number is (413) 858-1902. His cell number is (413) 336-3334, e-mail: jlevinsky@seiu509.org.

Comments

Fair wages

We are not asking for anything more than a living wage that is fair. Many of our agencies bill insurance at a very high rate for the service that we, the front liners, are only paid a rate of less than $13 an hour. It seems that although we are a "not for profit" agency, our corporate people ARE profiting! We are just asking that if WE are providing the service, and YOU are growing because of the quality of service we are providing, then, SHARE the wealth....please!

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