NEWS GLEAMS: CDCHC Workers Unionize, New Chief Librarian at SPL, & More

curated by Emerald Staff

A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!

✨Gleaming This Week✨

Photo depicting health care workers in scrubs and coats walking down a sidewalk in protest, carrying various signs that read "Trust Support And Believe Black Women!" and "We Will Not Be Silenced!"
Medical personnel from Carolyn Downs Family Medical Center and Country Doctor Community Health Centers walked out of work on January 28, 2021, to express their disappointment in the reinstatement of Raleigh Watts as executive director. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Country Doctor Community Health Centers Workers Unionize One Year After Protest

(Reporting by Jasmine M. Pulido)

The health care workers at Country Doctor Community Health Centers (CDCHC) announced last week that they have unionized by joining SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. The formation comes just a little over a year after the investigation of, protest against, and subsequent resignation from their executive director.

CDCHC comprises two clinics — Country Doctor Community Clinic and Carolyn Downs Family Medical Center. Carolyn Downs Family Medical Center (CDFMC) is the last Black Panther Clinic remaining in the nation and shares a building in the Central District with Seattle Childrens’ Odessa Brown Community Clinic, a clinic that went through a similar, albeit more public, trajectory of BIPOC staff member resignation in the fall of 2020, investigation into allegations, followed by a protest of the results by its health care workers.

According to SIEU Healthcare 1199NW’s press release, health care workers voted to join the union 75 to 23. They will soon sit down with the CDCHC administration for contract negotiation.

In comment to the unionization announcement, Justice Wornum, clinic operations coordinator at Country Doctor who served as the chair of Black Caucus Resource Group during last year’s protest said, “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.”

By joining SIEU Healthcare 1199NW, CDCHC will unite with over 32,000 nurses and health care workers from different clinics, hospitals, and health care programs across Washington State and Montana. This will be CDCHC’s first-ever union and first contract negotiation as a union.

Tom Fay. Photo courtesy of The Seattle Public Library.

Tom Fay Selected as New Chief Librarian of the Seattle Public Library

On Wednesday, March 2, The Seattle Public Library’s board of trustees voted unanimously to select Tom Fay as the new executive director and chief librarian of The Seattle Public Library. The vote marked the culmination of a national search for the position. 

Fay has been serving as the Library’s interim chief librarian since April 2021. Prior to that, Fay served as the Library’s director of Programs and Services.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected as Seattle’s next chief librarian,” said Fay in a press statement. “The Seattle Public Library is a beacon of learning, connection, opportunity, and inspiration for our city. Its foundation of strength and excellence is due to the commitment of our public and our staff. I look forward to learning from the many communities we serve to help shape the future of the Library.”

The chief librarian is responsible for the overall vision, direction, stewardship, and successful operational management of The Seattle Public Library, and leads 650 employees. Reporting directly to the Library board of trustees, the chief librarian also holds a cabinet-level role on the leadership team of the City of Seattle Mayor’s Office.

Photo depicting a red sign attached to a chain-link fence that reads in white text "Park Temporarily Closed."
A sign of a temporarily closed park near Seattle City Hall. (Photo: Paul Kiefer)

Seattle City Councilmember Touts Shelters as Solution to Encampment Shootings

(Reporting by Paul Kiefer/ PubliCola) 

In the two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, gun violence in Seattle has both surged and transformed. While the number of gun homicides fell from 2020 to 2021, both the number of people shot and the number of shots fired rose by roughly 40%. One of the key drivers of that increase, interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz told the City Council’s Public Safety Committee last week, was an uptick in shootings at encampments.

Over the past two years, gun violence at encampments across the city escalated dramatically. In January 2020, only 6.5% of the city’s shootings took place in encampments; by December 2021, at least a quarter of Seattle’s shootings were in encampments. Police reports about encampment shootings cite drug deals gone wrong, personal disputes, or unpaid debts as inciting incidents, but Diaz did not identify any broader reason why violence in encampments is on the rise.

While Seattle’s efforts to reduce gun violence have historically relied on outreach to young people in gangs, City Councilmember Andrew Lewis, who chairs the council’s committee on housing and homelessness, now argues that the City should think of moving people from encampments to shelters as an essential part of reducing gun violence. “There’s something about unsanctioned encampments — they attract gun violence,” he said. People living in encampments may carry guns to protect themselves, Lewis noted, and people involved in low-level survival crimes often can’t turn to police or courts to resolve disputes.

In Lewis’ view, while shelters are not the only solution to rising gun violence, they seem to have helped curtail it. As examples, he pointed to the city’s tiny house villages, run by the Low-Income Housing Institute, and the hotel-based shelters run by JustCARE, a collaboration between counseling, outreach, and diversion providers that serves people with serious behavioral health challenges. So far, he said, there have been no shootings at any JustCARE shelter or tiny house villages.

(Read the full article on PubliCola.)

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