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Denver mental health workers to picket for better benefits

The employees are part of the SEIU Local 105 labor union and are demanding fair wages, hazard pay and better benefits to protect them during the pandemic.

DENVER — Employees of the Mental Health Center of Denver plan to picket against their company Saturday. 

The employees are part of the SEIU Local 105 labor union and are demanding fair wages, hazard pay and better benefits to protect them during the pandemic.

"We've been working really hard to maintain these services for the community," said Sarah Broadwell, a vocational counselor who plans on picketing Saturday. "We just really want to get that message out to the community that we really work hard and we deserve these benefits, and our employer does amazing things for the people that we serve, and we would like that to be extended to us as well." 

Employees and community members plan to meet outside the Behavioral Health Solutions Center at the corner of West 10th Avenue and Federal Boulevard.

RELATED: 'COVID has just been a whole new level of physical and mental exhaustion': UCHealth program helps fight burnout in healthcare workers

Broadwell told 9NEWS demanding these benefits was the least their team could do. While the pandemic continues, she said they expect their work to pick up.

"I think that the fallout mental health wise is going to be really big, and we're really important in supporting people and that transition," she said. 

9NEWS reached out to the Mental Health Center of Denver for comment. In an e-mailed statement President & CEO Carl Clark, M.D. said:

“The Mental Health Center of Denver values our hardworking, compassionate staff who are dedicated to improving the well-being of our community. We are proud that despite facing substantial unplanned COVID-related costs and lost revenues, no employees have been laid off, there have been no required furlough days and we’ve continued to pay employees who could not work their full schedules due to COVID-19 issues, such as school or facility closures.

The Mental Health Center of Denver has a strong record advocating for more pay for mental health workers to achieve parity with all health care workers. We are committed to fair and equitable salaries and offer employee compensation that is in line or above the industry average. We have been in negotiations for five months and will continue to work in good faith that a fair agreement will soon be reached.”

RELATED: Mental health and addiction resources for Colorado residents

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