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NJ Behavioral Health Workers Make Voices Heard In Seeking Union Recognition

Photo Credit: AFSCME New Jersey
By Mark McCullough ·
NJ Behavioral Health Workers Make Voices Heard In Seeking Union Recognition
Photo Credit: AFSCME New Jersey

Behavioral health workers in New Jersey are raising their voices and speaking up as they demand that their employer recognize their union.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the United States, workers from SERV Behavioral Health System who voted overwhelmingly to be represented by AFSCME New Jersey Council 63 rallied outside the SERV of Mercer County headquarters in Ewing to demand recognition for their union.

More than 150 AFSCME members, and community leaders and elected officials from across New Jersey attended the rally earlier this month to support the workers of SERV Mercer County.

In December, more than 77% of residential counselors and maintenance employees for SERV Centers of New Jersey in Mercer County voted to form a union through AFSCME New Jersey so they can improve working conditions, staffing and consumer care.

“It has been four months since SERV workers made their choice to form a union and SERV has spent that time trying to overturn the election and the will of the members,” said AFSCME New Jersey Executive Director Steven Tully. “Every day that SERV tries to overturn the election is another day that we are not having a meaningful dialogue that results in a fair contract, that helps achieve better staffing, better workplace safety and improved pay.”

SERV has hired the notorious union-busting law firm, Jackson Lewis, to try to silence the workers’ voice. Prior to the election, SERV conducted mandatory group and one-on-one meetings, forcing the workers to endure what they described as threats and intimidation aimed at silencing their voices. Instead of respecting the result of the National Labor Relations Board election, SERV continues to spend thousands of dollars to try to overturn the election results.

“We are proud of the work we do, and we want to work with management to make SERV the best behavioral health provider in New Jersey,” said one SERV worker, who didn’t want to be quoted by name for fear of retaliation from SERV management. We are asking that management take the first step by recognizing our union, AFSCME New Jersey Council 63. We believe this would be a far more productive course for all instead of fighting legal battles … or continuing to escalate collective action.”

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