Statement from Ashwin Vasan, MD, Ph.D., CEO and President of Fountain House, supporting Non-Supervisory Direct Service Employees Petition for Union Representation

Posted on October 26, 2020

On October 22, Fountain House was notified by the National Labor Relations Board that a union called District Council 37 (DC 37) has filed a petition to represent many of our employees – those who are the non-supervisory direct-service staff - for the purposes of collective bargaining.

These Fountain House frontline staff are true essential workers – both legally, as determined by New York State, but also morally, as the people closest to our members and their needs. They are owed an enormous debt of gratitude in the best of times, but particularly at the current time. Our values as an organization are centered around our thriving members and staff – along with their relentless self-determination. Therefore, we are in support of our staff in this effort, which aligns with those values.

The past few months have been exceedingly trying for our nation overall. It is particularly challenging for organizations like Fountain House, which have been defined as a physical place where members and staff come together and create a restorative, safe, therapeutic environment. I am proud to be part of an organization where, during the lockdown, staff and members so quickly and thoughtfully pivoted to develop a virtual environment, reach out to those not able to connect online, continue staffing housing, and ensure the maintenance of basic needs such as food and finances. While the entire organization has played a part in this transformation, the day-to-day work has been particularly borne by the frontline staff.

In the coming days, we will communicate with staff who are eligible to participate in the collective bargaining process about providing required information to the union from Fountain House.

In the meantime, we will continue our commitment to organizational development and transparency. A key part of that work is establishing best practices in and systematizing our human resources function, and ensuring that staff are fairly compensated and evaluated, and their rights defined and protected, and under the leadership of our interim HR director, we are taking a deep dive into our practices, and identifying gaps and opportunities as we develop a comprehensive HR strategy.

I, and Fountain House managers, are committed to continuing to be an employer of choice, as demonstrated in part by how we value our employees, and we support our staff efforts to ensure that together we realize that vision.


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