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Equitas Health Workers Win Union Election

August 15, 2022
Contact: Neil Bhaerman, 412-266-4899,

Equitas Health Workers Win Union Election

COLUMBUS — A majority of frontline client-facing employees at Equitas Health voted to form their union with the Ohio Federation of Teachers, according to election results that were released today by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The bargaining unit includes approximately 175 social workers, counselors, therapists, advocates, case managers, and other employees who work in Equitas Health offices across Ohio. 

"We came together as a union because we need a voice at work that allows us to stick up for ourselves and make sure we’re providing clients with the highest quality of care,” said Breann Smith, a health advocate at Equitas Health Newark. “I have worked here for 5 years and throughout that time I’ve seen too many changes made without our input, even though we’re the people who knew how those changes would impact our clients.”

A supermajority of eligible workers petitioned for this union election on May 31, 2022, when they submitted signed union cards to management and to the Cincinnati office of the NLRB. However the organizing efforts began a year before that, in the spring of 2021. 

“We’ve seen positive changes at Equitas since we began organizing more than a year ago, including the hiring of a new interim CEO who is moving Equitas Health in the right direction,” said Erin Koosed, a Medical Health Advocate at Equitas Health Toledo. “We plan to use our union voice and our upcoming contract negotiations to ensure that we keep moving in that direction and continue to address the needs of clients and staff.”  

Equitas Health Workers United (EHWU) is the fourth group of workers to successfully join the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) in the last 12 months, following union wins for workers at Worthington Libraries, Summit Academy in Lorain, and Menlo Park Academy in Cleveland. Additionally, educators at the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities will begin voting in their union election next week. 

“We are thrilled to welcome these essential frontline workers into our union,” said Melissa Cropper, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers. “Like most people who decide to organize their unions, these workers love the work that they do and want to make sure they have the tools, resources, and staff to be able to do their job well. We’re looking forward to supporting them through their contract negotiations and helping them win guaranteed standards that will reduce turnover and improve the care they provide to their clients.”

EHWU will join more than 100,000 other healthcare and social work professionals in the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), including 500 OFT members who work at Franklin County Children Services. 

“We are so excited that social workers, counselors, therapists, case managers and other frontline employees at Equitas Health have joined together to improve the care and service they provide to their clients and communities—and that they have joined the AFT,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “They will have 1.7 million members on their side as they use their collective strength to negotiate a first contract that guarantees a voice at work, dignity and respect, and fair wages and conditions.”

“One of our biggest challenges is building and maintaining trusted relationships with our clients while we have significant staff turnover,” said Justice Harley, a prevention specialist at Equitas Health Clintonville. “Now that we’ve won our union, we can negotiate guaranteed improvements for staff that will help us reduce this turnover and strengthen our relationships with our clients."


The Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) is composed of 54 local unions representing 20,000 members who are active and retired public school teachers, charter school teachers, school support staff, higher education faculty and staff, and public employees. OFT works to advance quality education and a voice in the workplace for Ohio’s education professionals. OFT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. 

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