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Workers at Bethesda Lutheran Community Services are the front line of care and support for people with developmental disabilities in group homes. We help them get up in the morning, bathe, dress, and go to bed at night. We cook the meals and keep the house clean. We do the shopping, plan outings, and provide transportation. We administer medications and we watch for and respond to crises— behavioral, emotional, or medical. We are known as Direct Support Providers (DSP’s), and we are often the only ones who know the realities of our supported individuals’ daily lives: their preferences, their hopes, dreams and fears. We rarely earn more than $11 per hour.
Despite our dedication, many Bethesda workers find it difficult to meet the needs of our supported individuals under current conditions, and that’s why we are forming a union with SEIU local 503. Some of us have been retaliated against for reporting abuse or unsafe living conditions or for sustaining workplace injuries. We struggle with short staffing, inadequate supplies of food, and unreliable and sometimes dangerous facilities and equipment.
Other front-line care providers who have already organized with SEIU have won a seat at the table and the ability to effectively advocate for quality services for the people they care for. (Read some of their stories here and here, and see video stories in right sidebar). They have also joined a powerful statewide organization with the ability to make a difference in Oregon’s budgeting process. Together, we can win dignity and respect on the job, and a chance to advocate for the people we serve.
Join us! For more information about forming a union at Bethesda Lutheran, contact a member of the Bethesda Lutheran Organizing Committee or call Penny Ruff at 503-408-4090 x404 or firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve been with Bethesda for 9 years. I support our union because it will give us a voice for client and staff rights and consistent staffing at required levels. With our union we can help Bethesda fully live up to its mission “to enhance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through services that share the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Rita Mott, DSP, Bethesda Lutheran, 142nd
“I support our union because I know the truth & importance unions play in coming together to accomplish what we can’t get done alone. I support our union for opportunities to make real positive changes for not only staff, but also for the individuals we serve. With our union I want to have fewer double standards, more fairness, more accountability, & greater transparency. As a team, truly living up to the “Mission” starts with respecting & not abusing the staff on the front lines. It means management should be respecting our decision to organize & form a union without suppressing or misleading us. I support our union to have our concerns actually heard, followed up on & implemented, because that not only impacts ourselves, but more importantly, the quality of life & care for the individuals we support.”
—Raleigh Wolfe, DSP, Bethesda Lutheran, Birchwood/6520 Hillsboro, OR
“I don’t see management value or respect us as employees. The high turn-over is very disruptive to the people we care for and triggers bad behaviors. Our union could improve turn over by giving workers a real voice for quality services so dedicated workers want to stay.”
—Mietha Dennis, DSP, Bethesda Lutheran, Ankeny