PROTEC17 members at Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) who work in the Opioid Treatment Program care deeply about their work, and have a lot of compassion and respect for their patients. 

This program is one of only a handful of publicly-operated treatment programs for individuals dependent on opioids in Washington State. From Substance Abuse Counselors to Clinical Assistants, treatment services staff have a strong sense of public service and are proud of the positive impact they have on the community. They also worked continuously throughout the pandemic with their clients who relied on this vital program. 

When SRHD unexpectedly received funding intended to stabilize the behavioral health workforce, PROTEC17 members stepped up to make sure their voices were heard in the decision-making process. 

Members Adam Martin and Dawnya Sanders were the first to alert their Union Representative about the funding. In a meeting with HR, they learned SRHD was considering spending the funds without any employee input, including one idea to build a gym in the basement. 

Immediately, the team organized a series of meetings where they gathered feedback on how members thought the funds should be used. Members unanimously agreed that the funds should be directly disbursed to staff, and launched a campaign to urge SRHD to do just that. After hearing their feedback, SRHD agreed to change course and disburse the funds directly to staff to use as they see fit. 

Thanks to the quick work of their colleagues, PROTEC17 members in the SRHD Treatment Services program who worked at the time the funding was received will be getting a $4,000 payment that they can decide how best to use for their own households, rather than their employer unilaterally deciding for them. 

“I feel like we have been rewarded for all the hard work we did through the COVID-19 pandemic,” said PROTEC17 member and Treatment Counselor, Beth Rogers. “It is a great reward for all of our dedication.” 

Beyond the immediate financial gain, this win has instilled a new sense of empowerment among members and has proven that standing together can effect positive change in our workplaces.