Faculty union challenges TimelyMD

Online faith-based counseling service raises concerns for students and faculty

by Tucker Caraway

In the print version of this article, Dr. Loren Cannon was referred to as a psychotherapist. He should have been identified as the Cal Poly Humboldt CFA President.

An Unfair Labor Charge has been filed against the Cal Poly Humboldt Board of Trustees on November 8th due to violations found in their contracting with Timely MD. The Public Employee Relations Board found the University in violation of government codes regarding the failure to notify Unions in contracting decisions. 

The charge was originally filed back in October 2021 by the California Faculty Association after being made aware a contract was signed with Timely MD without their knowledge.

“They signed this contract before meeting with CFA, the union that represents counselors, and that’s a big no-no. That’s the basis of our unfair labor practice charge,” said Loren Cannon, president of the Humboldt chapter of the California Faculty Association.

Timely MD, also known as TimelyCare, is a Texas based counseling provider that works in conjunction with CAPS.  They provide 24/7 counseling support as well as individual counseling sessions during breaks and outside business hours. 

“I’ve heard when you try to get an in person appointment, they refer you to TimelyCare,” said Chelsea Rios-Gomez, intern for Students for Quality Education. 

TimelyCare has been available to Cal Poly Humboldt students since March 2022 after switching from the platform ProtoCall due to complaints of long wait times. 

“If you’re in a mental health crisis, you don’t want to wait online. So they were looking to have something to improve that. But in doing so, they contracted with a company that isn’t just doing emergency counseling, they’re doing regular counseling, which is a union job,” Cannon said. 

Outsourcing union jobs to out of state entities not only puts faculty at a disadvantage, but also poses a new risk to students engaging with TimelyCare. 

“You will be finding good counselors. Not all of the counselors there are going to be bad.

But there are some counselors, some faith based counselors, more specifically Christian counselors, who are perpetrating harm to our students,” said Rios-Gomez.

Timely MD, while not a Christian organization,  offers faith based counseling services to Christian universities and has a working partnership with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. 

“We’re outsourcing union jobs, and we’re also outsourcing responsibility for our students’ wellbeing,” Cannon said.

Texas is a state with a reputation for anti LGBTQ+ policies and practices. Five years ago, Gavin Newsom Passed Assembly Bill 1887, which prohibits state-funded travel to Texas and 23 other states with discriminatory LGBTQ+ policies and practices. 

“We can’t even fly to Texas for an academic conference because we’d be putting money in the Texas economy,” said Cannon. 

Thanks to legal loopholes in state jurisdiction, students logging into TimelyCare who, for example, would want to file a Title IX lawsuit, would have to do so in Tarrant County, Texas.

“The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities actively argues that religious colleges should be able to receive federal funding, and to be able to discriminate against LGBTQ+ students, basically saying they are not protected under title 9,” said Cannon. 

Students for Quality Education, who work in coordination with the California Faculty Union, has been made aware of an array of discriminatory encounters on on the platform. 

“It’s a lot of invalidating of trans identities and queerness in terms of pushing Christinaity in that way,” said Rios-Gomez.

When it comes to addressing the needs of the Cal Poly Humboldt community, Cannon said it’s important for unions to be involved in contracting these services, so CAPS can find vetted counselors that actually understand the needs of the community they’re involved in. 

“What is the most important thing is to value the people doing the important work on our campus,” Cannon said. 

As of November 8th, the Board of Trustees has 20 days to respond to the complaint charges by proving they didn’t violate labor laws and union members rights. 

“The fact that it went forward from that initial step is that the people at the PERB must think that our charge has merit, and I’m not a lawyer, but it’s pretty cut and dry without talking to us and without negotiating it,” Cannon said.

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