Behavioral health workers demanding higher pay

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Workers from the Clinical & Support Options non-profit group rallied outside their Northampton offices Wednesday, demanding higher wages and better benefits.

Wednesday morning’s rally was is response to nearly six months of contract negotiations between union workers from the Clinical & Support Options service provider and their administrators.

Union workers chanted for better pay, retirement benefits, and fewer productivity demands. They told 22News that they are proud of the work they do as clinicians dealing with some of Western Mass’ youngest mental health patients, and want CSO to be a leader in how mental health care workers are treated throughout the state.

“Health care workers in general aren’t paid very well across the state, so we’re having this rally because we want to just raise awareness for everybody that health care workers need to be compensated for the hard work that we do,” outpatient clinician Shannon Gamble said.

The non profit’s president and CEO, Karin Jeffers, told 22News that they are offering a 3% raise over the next three years, among other benefit increases.

Jeffers said that how much they’e able to pay their staff has everything to do with how they are funded. “There’s a state process where they set what the rates are that we get including the medicaid program so we aren’t able to negotiate necessarily for higher rates with our funders in order to just turn that around and pass that along to our employees.”

Jeffers also said they have made a final offer to the union and asked them to vote on it, but does not believe a vote has happened.

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