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Update on the Parry Center Strike, Day 11.

This is a short update on the strike at the Parry Center.
As most of you know, the Parry Center for Children has been on strike since November 29.

Things are going as one would expect: lots of hours on the picket line and very little movement on the managment's part. Despite union-related support from the head of DHS, the AFL-CIO, multiple unions, the County Commissioners, and the Governor, Trillium continues to be obstinate. One might wonder why they are biting the hand that feeds them (the Commissioners will have more control of funding for places like Parry come January); the union has no answer for this. The only thing we know for sure is that they've spent more money on busting the union than it would have cost to give us our wage increases ... this is according to the UNION'S figures, not the CEO's grossly bloated $1.1m estimate.

Community support has been tremendous. We've received a couple of thousand dollars in donations, mostly from other locals and unions, which we are going to put towards paying for our workers' COBRA (public health insurance) payments. We've also received lots of Fred Meyer gift cards, hand warmers, plastic ponchos, and canned food. People have been randomly coming up and marching with us on the line. The community/union/activist support is wonderful, and we're extremely grateful for all their efforts!

People have been staying safe on the line, aside from the first couple of days when management and scabs were trying to run us over. It's cold and wet, though, and sometimes morale dips a little. But then we have moments like tonight, at the Kids' Festival of Lights for Rights, and we get pumped again because we see how important solidarity, children, and the labor movement is to so many people.

Our guess is that this is Trillium's one last hurrah at getting rid of the union, which is why they're fighting us so hard and ignoring what some pretty importannt people are asking them to do. But I can assure you we're ALL committed to fighting for the rights of the kids we care about, and to fighting for labor rights. We WILL be out there one day longer than they are!

They will never bust our union.

Why they're obstinate 11.Dec.2004 10:16

xyzzy

"One might wonder why they are biting the hand that feeds them (the Commissioners will have more control of funding for places like Parry come January); the union has no answer for this."

I have an answer: power.

More than money, more than physical material affluence, business is about the quest for power over others.

If you doubt this, consider the case of Bill Gates. He has money coming out of his ears, to the point where he's incapable of spending any more of it to increase his material affluence. His house is so enormous no doubt it feels more like a private convention center than a home. "Home" for Gates is probably a smaller subset of rooms within that mansion where he spends most of his time, in much the same way that the Queen of England spends most of her time in a suite of rooms in one small part of just one of her castles.

Gates could have retired a decade or more ago and continued to enjoy this level of affluence for the rest of his life. Yet he voluntarily chose not to. Because, I suggest, of the desire for power.

Portland

Merry Xmas! 12.Dec.2004 01:29

????

People say one staff member reported to the IRS a income of $180,000 per year from the Parry Center, yet when the kids asked for a pet dog Parry said it wasn't in the budget!


Well . . . Merry Xmas!!!

Thank God they put the kids first!!!

Manipulated by the Elected 12.Dec.2004 08:14

An Oregon Citizen for Common Sense a4pilotjh07@hotmail.com

Just a recommendation for the Union.

I find it ironic that the Govenor is supporting the striking union considering that the Trillum is a non-profit corperation funded by the Oregon State Government. Shouldn't the Govenor show his support by increasing the funding to the non-profit in his 2005 or 2006 budget that would allow Trillum to increase the pay for the workers providing the care to our state's children.

I guess it is time for a sales tax that would only support health care and education, since they are the two areas getting cut from what I am reading. If our sales tax is smaller than the sales tax in Washington, Idaho, California and Nevada, there would be no associated drop in sales due to the fact it would still be cheaper to purchase items in Oregon.

I would recommend the union picket the Govenor's and the State Assembly in order to get increase funding for our state's childrens needs or its time for a sales tax.

i don't get it 12.Dec.2004 20:40

child care worker

I haven't been following the strike too closely, so please forgive mt ignorance. As a fellow child care worker I have had several people ask me my opinion on the Perry Center Strike. I don't have one, but I do have some questions that perhaps someone can answer.

First of all I don't understand what the strike is about? From what I have read it is over wages. Perry Center does pay the lowest of all the residential centers in Portland, yet they are unionized. If they weren't a part of the union wouldn't employees get paid more? Secondly, from what I have read workers want a 20 cent raise. Why not just go work at one of the other agencies? Chances are you will get to see the same kids come through anyway.


Second- This crap about safety and kids. In Oregon the state legislature sets our budget. Even though we voted for the Multnomah County Tax, state mental health will be cut 1 billion dollars in funding next year. The state cannot afford residential treatment for children. The community as a whole won't pay for it and we are moving towards short term treatment stabalization modalities as it is. Look at the upcoming contracts. When I drive by the Perry center I see signs about safety first and this strike being about the kids. All of us who work in this field get into it because we care about the kids however, no kids will be helped unless there are services and unfortunately the services the community/ state government is stating they want isn't residential treatment nor are they willing to pay. Perhaps all this energy spent on striking should be directed towards policy and budget changes

Third - it seems like most of the workers who are striking are direct care employees. The ones who work with the children. Most agencies have a turnover rate around 9 months to a year in this sort of a job. Higher wages will not alleviate this problem. Usually it's the nature of the work, the difficult kids etc.. that burn people out. Yes, this position requires a 4 year degree and i agree that we are not compensated well, however we all know this going into the field. By going on strike it seems that the only ones who are hurt are the kids. THe administration can hire people into full time positions as direct care workers are an entry level position. Working this type of a job is like paying your dues in order to move up in the social service world. There is always a fresh pool of recent graduates to fill the shoes of those workers who leave. They may not have the experience but it really doesn't matter because the goal isn't really effective treatment.

It is unfortunate that administrators, legislators, and the public as a whole doesn't value people who work with kids. This has historically been the case and will probably always be. People in these positions can always count on being able to exploit those of us who are caring/helping individuals. It would be nice if this strike could change that. however it appears as though it isn't the way to go. It seems as though the only ones who are being hurt are the kids and the workers.

I disagree 17.Dec.2004 13:10

Jake

I have been a caregiver for 8 years and it must be stated that the advise given by the last poster is bogus! Caregivers should not go from job to job looking for the best wage. This would negatively impact the children and cause more undertrained and overworked staff to have the same issues. Caregivers should hold their ground and fight the system. All caregivers should be unionizing. Turnover rates are high due to underpaid and overworked staff. My co-workers sometimes work two or three jobs to pay student loans and make ends meet for their own kids. Caregivers as a whole should be making a living wage with some decent insurance. These issues are a priority at every agency in Portland!!! I am sick of new staff/caregivers comming into kids lives and building a relationship to be burnt out and out the door in a few months. This causes undertrained folks to make mistakes and kids pay the price. Trying to provide some stability to youth that have had such hard lives is not going to happen until we can respect, retain and support caregivers. Keep strong Parry Center!!!

sad situation 18.Dec.2004 13:13

fierydrunk

I have been a social worker for nearly 10 years and began my career working in residential treatment in a "cottage" with boys diagnosed/labelled with Oppositional-Defiant Disorder. At that time, I made more money an hour than I had ever made before, during or after receiving my undergrad degree, though in retrospect it wasn't much.

However, what propelled me to get a Masters and another kind of social work job with kids, were the awful conditions, the lack of support from administration when things got crazy and the intense pain the kids expressed (often violently towards one another and themselves). It certainly wasn't about the money. It simply was too difficult to be there; I even developed a stress-related heart condition! While I support the Parry Center strikers as I feel they are paid a miserable wage for a often miserable job, the focus should be (and I am sure this is not missed on them) complete change of the current ineffective residential care paradigm. It simply does not work.

Maybe winning this wage fight is the first of many fights, but once it is won are you just going back to work and all will magically be well? I seriously doubt it. If you are investing yourself in helping kids, the fight does not begin or end with a wage.

Obviously I am ambivalent about the strike, but I do wish them well. I know how you feel inside and outside of those gates. But remember, those kids are still in there. FIght for them. For real.