Telehealth Workers Join DC 37 in Historic Vote


Workers at the mental health company Resilience Lab made labor history when they voted to join District Council 37, making it the first telehealth group nationwide to be unionized.

The vote count of the mail-in ballots, held remotely on Feb. 1, was a lengthy process overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. Resilience Lab Organizing Committee members and DC 37 Organizing Department staff watched the virtual count in anticipation, frequently checking laptops for information and worker lists posted on the wall while communicating with union attorneys on ballot challenges and rules.

At its conclusion, the vote resulted in a 79-13 victory for the workers at Resilience Lab and the union. National Labor Relations Board spokesperson Kayla Blado announced the employees at Resilience Lab were now union members.

Emily Weinrebe, a clinician at Resilience Lab and member of the organizing committee, said, “It was overwhelming. I was unsurprised because we all had done such an incredible outreach with our colleagues. We had a strong sense of how people would vote.”

Resilience Lab is a New York-based telehealth company specializing in providing mental health services online through one-on-one sessions between clients and clinicians. After its founding in 2019, workers noticed that management placed more emphasis on technology as the company grew, while hiring former executives from companies such as Uber, which has fought against known unionization for its workers.

Before management’s focus on technology and—as it turned out—reducing workers’ salaries, the company had a reputation for offering a stable job and good pay for therapists early in their careers. To be fully licensed, new therapists with master’s degrees in Social Work or Mental Health Counseling must complete thousands of hours of supervised training.

For the workers at Resilience Lab, this opportunity offered a better-paying professional option than others, particularly with the increased demand for telehealth services since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the workers needed better compensation for administrative time, client correspondence, scheduling, and billing.

“While Resilience Lab gave us some money for administrative time, it was not nearly enough to cover the amount of time and effort people were putting into navigating the systems and platforms, along with client correspondence,” Weinrebe said.

In October 2022, the company presented Resilience Lab workers with a contract eliminating a critical position that paid $67,000 a year. The terms set the base salary for all clinicians at $15,600 per year and just 15% of the patient fee for the first 49 sessions per month, increasing only with the 50th session.

By then, the fed-up workers were already fighting back.

According to Weinrebe, the clinicians began discussing unionizing in online chats, expressing grievances, and building relationships. Resilience Lab workers then reached out to DC 37’s Organizing Department.

“DC 37 was the union we had the most connection with, was the most enthusiastic about working with us, and was the most responsive,” Weinrebe said. “The union responded, ‘All right, we’re here. We are ready to work with you.’”

In August, Organizers Charmaine Paige and later Nicholas Guarnaccia worked to develop long-term strategies. They assisted with scheduling one-on-one meetings internally—vital tactics in an organizing campaign—before the workers went public with their intentions and the campaign.

Indira Mohan, Associate Director of DC 37’s Organizing Department, was impressed with the preparedness of Resilience Lab activists.

“In many ways, they were already self-organized and developing an organizing committee,” Mohan said.

The union’s help and the workers’ determination and organizing culminated in a massive win.

Noting the importance of the organizing breakthrough into the telehealth field, DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said, “All workers deserve the support of a union, whether they conduct their business online or face-to-face. We’re so proud of the workers of Resilience Lab for their courage and leadership in stepping up to organize. Now the work begins to secure a contract for our new members.”

%d bloggers like this: