Long Term Care Nurses file
for election to join HPAE
EMERSON—The more than 40 nurses at Complete Care at the Harborage, a 245-bed long-term nursing care facility in North Bergen, are petitioning the National Labor Relations Board for an election to join HPAE.
“Nurses need the protections and stability that belonging to a union can provide them, especially when it comes to staffing standards that allow them to adequately care for their patients,” HPAE President Debbie White, RN, said. “That is why these nurses are organizing with New Jersey’s largest union of healthcare workers. HPAE is already leading the fight for safe staffing through legislation as well as through our contracts.”
The nurses are saying a lack of safe staffing and a general lack of respect for workers by the employer is the reason they are petitioning to join New Jersey’s largest union of healthcare workers.
“Having a union will give us the platform to negotiate the proper level of staffing to properly care for our patients as well as other workplace issues,” Nelly Rodriguez, a nurse who has worked at the facility for 31 years. “With a say in the workplace, we can fight to improve the overall quality of care at Harborage.”
Yasmine Peralta, who has worked at the facility for 13 years, said the workers decided to form a union after the employer had thwarted every attempt to turn the tide of attrition and engage in discussing equitable resolutions to workplace issues.
“Through a Union, we can fight for our patients, protect our jobs, and work toward creating real equity in our workplace. Better working conditions and job safety would allow us to retain the nurses who are leaving. Having a voice will allow us to not feel so burnt out and fed up. We can come to work with pride and feel like we made a difference in our patients’ lives and that we matter as well, ” Peralta said.
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More than 120 workers at The Harborage—Certified Nursing Assistants, Housekeepers, and
Dietary Staff—are already members of HPAE Local 5097.
“Harborage workers are sacrificing daily to care for our patients, but we want to have Complete
Care as a partner in that effort,” Edith Portillo said. “With a union, we will be able to sit across the table with our employer to discuss issues like our working conditions and other issues that go directly to patient care. We feel that is important.”
Mary Middleton, who has worked at Harborage for more than 30 years, spoke of the hardship workers endured during the pandemic. But she said the overriding concerns about her patients in the subacute unit drove her and other staff to join the union drive.
“The patients count on us. This is their home. We must have enough staff on duty on each shift to make sure their care and needs are met,” she said.
The date for the union election will be set later by the National Labor Relations Board.
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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 university research facilities. HPAE is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.