FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 24, 2022
Healthcare workers at Country Doctor Community Health Centers form first-ever union
Workers at the historical clinic in Seattle united with the state’s largest healthcare union for a stronger, progressive voice in delivering safe and effective care
SEATTLE, WA — United in their determination to better advocate for themselves and their patients, healthcare workers and staff at Country Doctor Community Health Centers, which includes Country Doctor Community Health Clinic and Carolyn Downs Family Medical Center, voted last week 75 to 23 to join SEIU Healthcare 1199NW.
With Carolyn Downs being the last standing community clinic founded by the Black Panther Party, and subsequently bought by Country Doctor in Capitol Hill, the union campaign and election were grounded in racial justice, equity and inclusion. CDCHC workers expressed their eagerness to bring forward the collective change needed to best serve their patients and the greater community.
“When so many employees of color have left this clinic frustrated and disappointed, it’s no surprise that our clinic is struggling. That reputation has a real impact, and it’s finally time to start living up to our promise of social justice,” said Justice Wornum, Clinic Operations Coordinator at Country Doctor. “This victory is yet another reflection of so many coworkers standing up and saying ‘You know what? I’m not going to sit here and let my goodwill be exploited.’ We can only meet the full needs of our patients when we no longer have to sacrifice our dignity and sanity in the process. Together we can finally create a plan to move forward rather than coping with another year of two-week solutions.”
“I have zero doubt that the beneficial changes that open dialogue will bring about will ultimately bring the healing needed to best serve our patients and the greater community, and the hope of retaining the gifted individuals who can carry forward our clinics’ mission and that of our clinics’ founders,” said Penelope Donado, a Spanish interpreter for Carolyn Downs.
The next step for union members will be to sit down with CDCHC administration and negotiate their first contract.
“I really and truly believe that this is going to move our organization in a positive and meaningful direction,” said Sheena Wong, an RN at Carolyn Downs. “This whole movement came out of a dark time for our organization when we felt like we weren’t being heard, and now we have a clear and powerful voice! Now we have the incredible prospect of creating our union to reflect our values.”
About SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and healthcare workers with over 32,000 caregivers throughout hospitals, clinics, behavioral health, skilled home health and hospice programs in Washington state and Montana. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW’s mission is to advocate for quality care and good jobs for all.