HPAE Local 5629 members at Sunrise House, a substance abuse treatment center in Lafayette, NJ owned by the for-profit company American Addiction Centers (AAC), have been illegally locked out by management.
After nine months of bad faith bargaining and other labor law violations by management, Local 5629 members, who provide front-line care to the clients at the facility, were set to begin a three day ULP strike, starting on Wednesday. However, at 8:30 pm the night before the planned ULP strike, staff were informed by management they they were locked out.
Yesterday, Local 5629 members rallied with members from other HPAE locals, HPAE staff, and union supporters at the entrance to Sunrise House. HPAE President Ann Twomey emphasized our union’s determination to achieve a contract which is good for patients and staff at the facility: “AAC nurses and workers are on the frontlines of the opioid addiction crisis, and are striving to improve safety conditions for patients and workers. This national for-profit chain, AAC, responded with an illegal lock-out, rather than bargain in good faith. Their action is an affront to workers, but also to the residents in need of safe and effective treatment. Despite the lockout, we will continue to bargain for a contract that protects patients and workers,” said Ann Twomey, HPAE President.
Representing 1 million union members and their families in New Jersey, Charlie Wowkanech, President of the New Jersey AFL-CIO said: “Your sisters and brothers in NJ’s labor movement are here in solidarity with you to challenge the illegal lockout and the bad faith bargaining AAC has subjected you to over the last nine months. I applaud all of you for reporting the incidents of violence, harassment, and abuse of workers’ rights that are under investigation by state and federal regulators, and I urge you to remain vigilant in bringing to light these deplorable conditions.”
Also speaking at the rally were members of the Union Negotiations Committee. They described the serious issues which led workers to vote by a 5 to 1 margin for HPAE representation last June. The lack of adequate security in the facility, unsafe staffing, harassment of employees, and totally inadequate wages were key issues at the time of the union vote and remain priority issues which need to be resolved in the negotiations.
Photos below: Sunrise House workers speaking at the rally (top to bottom – Sheila Shicker, Steve Martin, Stu Miller, and Katie Vaughn)