Safe Passage employees vote to unionize

  • Safe Passage in Northamtpon GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/4/2020 11:52:56 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Employees at Safe Passage have voted to unionize after not receiving voluntary recognition from the organization’s board of directors earlier this year.

Workers at Safe Passage, a Northampton-based social services organization with a mission to end domestic violence and relationship abuse, voted 14-6 in favor of becoming affiliated with United Auto Workers 2322 in Holyoke when ballots were counted on June 25, according to election results posted online by the National Labor Relations Board.

“We’ve been through a long campaign together, and we’re ready and excited for the next step. We look forward to building our union and meeting the Board of Directors at the bargaining table,” read a statement from the Safe Passage Organizing Committee. “As workers at Safe Passage, we’re united in our desire for our workplace to live up to its reputation in the community. We’re fighting for a more just, democratic workplace, where the voices of workers and clients are heard and power is shared by all.”

Ballots were sent in by mail, according to Leslie Roberts, an organizer with the union and a first contact specialist at Safe Passage. Two elections were held — one where 20 ballots were counted that ended up succeeding, according to the NLRB, and another with two people that ended in a tie. This smaller election was for workers who are considered “professionals,” Roberts said, meaning people with additional qualifications, such as a licensed social worker.

“We were hoping that they would be included,” Roberts said.

In a statement, Safe Passage’s Board of Directors expressed gratitude toward its employees and said they “remained neutral on the question of unionization throughout the election, trusting that the confidential voting process enshrined in the National Labor Relations Act would allow each person in the proposed bargaining unit the ability to express their preference free from pressure of any kind, and therefore, that the judgment and will of the majority of its employees would prevail.”

“The Board is committed to reaching common ground and bargaining a contract that addresses the needs of all Safe Passage employees,” said Shane Hammond, co-chair of the organization’s board in the statement. “The Board is equally committed to approaching the bargaining process in a way that demonstrates Safe Passage’s long-standing employee-centered and justice-oriented approach to human resources.”

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.

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