Sunrise House workers overwhelmingly ratified their first contract yesterday at a meeting in Lafayette, NJ. The Negotiations Committee’s explanation of the contract terms was greeted with enthusiastic support by Local 5629 members, who had been locked out by management for three weeks before a settlement was reached.
The three year contract, which expires June 14, 2020, contains major gains in staffing, security, wages, and holiday pay. Employees earning lower wages will receive increases over 20% for the life of the contract, additional staff will be hired, and security at the facility will be improved to protect patients and the staff. A major complaints of the workers, the lack of premium pay for holidays, was rectified; employees will receive 1 1/2 pay for all holidays worked.
“We have gained significant improvements that will increase the safety for the staff and patients. The financial gains and safer working conditions will also help retain experienced of staff. We are proud of what we accomplished for our members and for our patients,” said Sheila Tubridy Schicker, LPN, member of HPAE’s bargaining committee.
“As a union of healthcare workers, our goal is to protect patients and workers, and we are working with state regulators and lawmakers to ensure patients can access treatment services at Sunrise House,” said Ann Twomey, President of HPAE. “We are looking forward to working together with AAC to publicly promote the good work we do together especially throughout the labor movement in New Jersey.”
HPAE and Sunrise House management are currently working with the NJ Department of Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which regulates and monitors substance abuse treatment centers, to begin the process to authorize the reopening of the facility as quickly as possible.