Union Levels Claims Against Kitsap Mental Health Services Management

By Rachel Pritchett
Labor representatives have sent a memo to top legislators accusing management at Kitsap Mental Health Services of union-busting and misusing state-appropriated funds to do it.
KMHS Executive Director Joe Roszak calls the accusations from Jonathan Rosenblum and Ellie Menzies of the Service Employees International Union “without merit.”
The SEIU represents more than 200 people who work at the county’s only public mental health agency in a wide range of capacities, including therapists, office workers and janitors. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW has been the only union at KMHS.
In the Dec. 18 memo
to legislators, Rosenblum, the union’s assistant to the president, and Menzies, its legislative director, alleged that KMHS management used a “hostile” approach last spring in its dealings with the union that involved delays, demands for large concessions and failure to keep union representatives in the loop.
Management encouraged workers to drop out of the union in the fall, according to the memo. Rosenblum and Menzies alleged management offered each employee a $1,000 bonus as an inducement.
The union representatives also alleged that the $1,000 bonuses were a misuse of state funds and suggested a state investigation.
Rochelle Doan, spokeswoman for KMHS, had no comment Monday on the alleged $1,000 bonuses.
The union memo also
suggested that KMHS management instigated a petition-gathering campaign to decertify the union. That petition, however, apparently got signatures from a majority of workers. It was submitted to management Dec. 11.
Doan suggested the petition came from below, not above.
“This was a choice of the staff. That’s the bottom line,” she said.
In a Dec. 23 e-mail to KMHS staff, Roszak stated: “It is unfortunate that SEIU has refused to honor staff’s petition for decertification that was signed by a majority of the former bargaining unit employees and presented to KMHS management. … KMHS subsequently honored the subsequently honored the petition and respected staff’s decision.”
But the union memo to legislators suggested that Roszak circumvented a legally established process to settle the question of whether KMHS staff has a union or not.
“To suggest, as Mr. Roszak has declared, that employers have the right to determine whether or not a union exists is to set labor law on its head,” it stated.
The memo to legislators came two days after the union filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board. It contained similar allegations. There has been no ruling on the charge.
In his e-mail to staffers, Roszak stated it was “unfortunate that SEIU (chose) to vilify the integrity of the agency and heap baseless claims in front of the legislature.”
Roszak, Rosenblum and Menzies were not available Monday for further comment.
Kitsap Mental Health Services provides mental health, chemical dependency treatment and housing services. The Kitsap Economic Development Alliance estimates that it had 377 full- and part-time workers in 2009.

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