Valley Cities employees protest subpar working conditions

The group said the building has presented an uninhabitable environment since they moved in.

Valley Cities employees conducted a peaceful protest over substandard working conditions on Tuesday morning.

About a dozen workers gathered at the main headquarters for the behavioral health clinic with a list of complaints they and their clients have about the conditions inside the one-site location at 1336 S. 336th St. in Federal Way. This includes a faulty HVAC unit and an inadequately lit parking lot, they said.

The group, who declined to give their names, stated the building has presented this uninhabitable environment since they moved in around July.

They also said management has not been communicating with them about where they are in the process of replacing the current HVAC system.

In the list of complaints they presented to the upper management of the company on Tuesday, they described how many of these issues were found before moving in.

“Prior to moving to this building, the safety of the building was brought up,” the letter reads in part, “this was a concern months before we were told of the office move dates.”

In the letter employees also expressed concerns about being allowed to move into the building when it was known the HVAC unit was not in working condition.

“It became very apparent shortly after the move that air flow and quality in the building was substandard,” the letter reads. Employees also pointed to the city’s permitting process as a potential barrier.

However, according to an email chain provided by the city’s Communications Coordinator Tyler Hemstreet, Valley Cities officials did not provide materials the Permit Department needed until Oct. 2.

An Oct. 23 email from Brian Davis, community development director for the city, reads: “The application came in on June 8. On June 12 the applicant was contacted and asked for additional information (engineering). The applicant resubmitted the requested documents on October 2 and the project was approved October 18. It is now in line for final processing which will hopefully happen today.”

Another concern the employees had for management was a lack of communication regarding the timeline.

According to their letter, “We have been reporting this issue to management since moving into the building and until recently the only response we have been given was, ‘Management knows about it and is working on it.’”

The CEO of Valley Cities, Shekh Ali, gave the following statement in response to the employee’s protest.

“We are aware of the recent events at our Federal Way Clinic, and are actively trying to resolve the matter. We understand our staff are our biggest asset, and our leadership remains committed to creating a stable and rewarding work place for our employees. We had a meeting with all Federal Way Clinic staff members this morning and listened to their concerns. We agreed on our commitment to our mission of Compassion, Connection, and Community thus, improve the health of the people and communities we serve. We listen and support all of our staff.”

Valley Cities Behavioral Health Clinic offers different programs and help to people suffering from substance abuse and challenges caused by mental health disorders. Their main office is located at 33405 8th Ave. S Federal Way.

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