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Persad Center Staff launches organizing effort with the United Steelworkers union

By November 7, 2019 No Comments

Story by Meg Fair
Pittsburgh Current Managing Editor
meg@pittsburghcurrent.com

Therapists, program coordinators, case managers and administrative staff at the Persad Center have announced their organizing effort with the United Steelworkers (USW) union. The Persad Center serves the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities of the greater Pittsburgh area.  

A unit of 23 workers has formed the Persad Staff Union, with the goal of “gaining a stronger voice to advocate for themselves, their community, and their clients,” according to a USW press release. Yesterday they filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board. 

Persad Staff Union members also are hoping for “increased stability and transparency, as well as a commitment to hiring a more diverse staff.” 

This comes several weeks after Jay Yoder, former Director of Development at the Persad Center, was let go on October 11 without being told why. In a Facebook post, Yoder said, “I imagine that [I was let go] because of my direct and assertive criticism of the board and for its misogyny, queer and transphobia and racism.”

In the same post, Yoder said, “Every single person on the Persad payroll is a gift to queer folks in the area,” indicating some tension between the board’s choices and the staff’s work and ethos. 

“We care deeply about our work and the organization, which we believe will only benefit from greater input from staff,” said Diane Dahm, a clinical therapist at Persad in the USW release. “We look forward to working with the board and management to make our agency stronger and better equipped to serve the vulnerable communities we work to uplift.”

Here is the Persad Staff Union’s public statement on Facebook:

“We are the Persad Staff Union. As therapists, case managers, program coordinators, administrative workers, and allied staff, we are forming our union to better advocate for ourselves, our community, and our clients. We are working together to promote the economic, emotional, physical and mental wellness of our staff so that we can do our jobs as best as we can. We need increased stability and transparency to prioritize our clients’ needs and foster workplace democracy. We stand together for clearer policies, a commitment to hiring a more diverse staff, a greater voice at work, and true inclusion, equity, and respect for everyone at Persad. We are strongly committed to social justice and advocating for the inclusion and representation of marginalized communities. We care deeply about our work and our organization, and we believe that Persad will benefit from greater input from staff. We look forward to working with our board and management team to make our agency stronger and uphold Persad’s mission to improve the “well-being of the LGBTQ communities and HIV/AIDS communities.”

Yesterday evening, we filed our authorization cards with the National Labor Relations Board. With the overwhelming support of our colleagues, we are excited to take the first step towards forming a union and we are ready to vote yes for our union!” 

The Pittsburgh Current will update the story as more information and statements become available. 

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