Hundreds of nurses and medical professionals gathered virtually on October 6-7 to re-elect a proven roster of state officers to continue to lead the HPAE for another three years after an unprecedented global pandemic.
Unionized healthcare workers first elected Debbie White as president at the 2018 HPAE convention and re-elected President White today, with Barbara Rosen as first vice president and Alexis Rean-Walker as secretary-treasurer.
âOver the next three years, HPAE healthcare workers will continue to mobilize and advocate for worker and patient safety, to address racial disparities in healthcare, to help our locals to hire our members, organize new units and negotiate stellar contracts, âshe said.
HPAE members at the Union Virtual Convention 2021 recognized State Senator Loretta Weinberg with an Award of Excellence for 28 years of service in the NJ Legislature, as “Health hero” who supported workers, especially health workers, throughout his years in public life.
“Through his leadership, we have achieved transparency rules on for-profit hospitals, whistleblower protection and staff disclosure laws,” said Barbara Rosen at the award ceremony. “Senator Weinberg has also fought successfully for open public record laws, against sexual harassment, and for funding for autism and other health programs.”
âTo all of you at HPAE, this has been my privilege,â Weinberg said of receiving the award. âYou helped me make the trip of my life, on an adventure I could never have anticipated. . . You each did more for me and more for the people I represented than I could ever have done for you.
HPAE also recognized Laura Kenny of the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration as a âhealth care heroâ for her regulatory work, particularly investigating healthcare facilities during the pandemic.
Even as more and more workers became infected and fell ill with COVID-19 and were at risk of dying from the disease, some employers remained unresponsive to the embarrassment. HPAE has filed 26 OSHA complaints against operators of healthcare facilities for failing to protect workers and other violations during the coronavirus pandemic. OSHA investigated and issued 26 citations and fines against facility operators in connection with these complaints.
âFor a long time, healthcare workers accepted that violence and unsafe working conditions were ‘just part of the job,â White said. âHPAE challenged that belief and put in place a healthcare program and security to train, defend, negotiate and lobby for job protection. But we did not do it alone. Along the way, we have had the expertise and insight of Laura Kenny, whose “The nation’s long career with OSHA has always put worker safety at the forefront of her job. In her previous role, Laura was our liaison with all things OSHA.”
President White presented the âHPAE State Awardâ to Claudia Storicks, RN and Individual Member of HPAE Local 5105 at Virtua Health, who has rendered exceptional service to our union as treasurer of the HPAE Committee on political education.
HPAE locals have also presented awards to members and / or leaders of their locals in recognition of their work serving patients and building the union, especially during the pandemic.
In President White’s State of the Union address, she noted that upon taking office, the management team immediately faced an adenovirus outbreak in 2018 at a long-care facility. duration. The union lobbied for the passage of a law requiring long-term care facilities to provide an infectious disease preparedness plan to the NJ Department of Health. This law was limited in its application, applying only to establishments providing long-term pediatric care.
âIt was a warning and we didn’t realize it then, a foreshadowing of the future,â White said. “Eleven children lost their lives, simply because the owners failed to identify and respond to the outbreak in a way that was in the best interests of these vulnerable patients.”
Over the next three years, HPAE nurses and healthcare workers battled several infectious disease outbreaks, including the ongoing COVID-19, in their healthcare facilities; opposed for-profit healthcare companies that put their interests ahead of patients and workers; mobilized and fought against the anti-union decisions of the Supreme Court and, despite everything, continue to provide safe patient care with pride and resilience.
The coronavirus pandemic has posed challenges for the union as dozens of members have been exposed to the virus, became ill and eight members have died from illness caused by the virus. The Convention presented a poignant commemorative video honoring members whose lives have been lost since the outbreak began in early 2020.
In her speech, White focused on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic that dominates so much of the union’s work.
âFrom the early days of the COVID pandemic epidemic, it became clear that in the absence of a federal or state pandemic plan, each healthcare employer was responsible for managing this pandemic in the manner they deemed appropriate. White said. âA few have done well. Most did not. As a union, we have had to go into crisis mode and react as our soldiers do in wartime: by prioritizing and managing the most critical situations. The only problem was that, unlike soldiers at war, our members often did not have the protective gear and weapons they needed to keep them safe.
She commended the HPAE members for all their hard work and sacrifices, especially during the pandemic.
âAs we prepare to move forward, no matter what,â White continued, âwe keep an eye on the past, knowing that we have made a difference in our environment and remembering that change that we did was because we are a strong union. “
HPAE members also passed several resolutions setting renewed direction to strategically set a course to improve health and safety conditions in all health facilities, address racial disparities in health care, and continue to strengthen and to develop the strength of their union.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday October 8, 2021
For more information please contact:
Michael Allen: (646) 436-7556; firstname.lastname@example.org
HPAE is the largest union of registered nurses and healthcare professionals in New Jersey, representing 14,000 nurses, social workers, therapists, technicians, medical researchers and other healthcare professionals in hospitals, nursing homes , home care agencies, blood banks and academic research centers. HPAE is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.
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