Nurses, Health Professionals Remain United as Supreme Court Sides with Wealthy, Corporate Interests in Anti-Union Case

June 26, 2018

Decision Motivates Workers to Stand Together in Protecting Their Voices in Health Care

Emerson, NJ—HPAE, the largest union of nurses and health professionals in NJ, responded to today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling as another strike against workers, who are advocates in their workplace, and in favor of wealthy individuals and corporate interests.

Ann Twomey, HPAE President, sees this decision as just another attempt to silence workers. It will not stop this union of health professionals from working to build a better life for themselves, those they treat and care for, and their communities.

“This decision reinforces what workers already know, that when we are all in, we all win. As a union of health professionals, we have made advancements to protect our benefits, improve health and safety conditions and patient safety in healthcare facilities.” said Ann Twomey.

Tom Murphy, Co-President of HPAE Local 5094 which represents 2500 health professionals at Rutgers University, Rowan University and University Hospital predicts this decision ultimately will lead to members joining together and organizing against attempts to weaken their union resulting in workers having a stronger voice in their workplace.

“This decision today is a momentary triumph for the wealthy special interests who backed this lawsuit,” Murphy said. “But the voices of working people will not go unheard. And unions, such as ours, remain the best way to make sure decision makers—at work or in the halls of government—are listening.”

The Supreme Court’s decision, in a case called Janus v. AFSCME, invalidates state laws allowing labor unions to collect fees from everyone in a bargaining unit, including non-members, to pay for the costs of bargaining and other representation the union is legally bound to provide.

Even though the decision overruled a precedent that had stood for more than 40 years, that outcome had been largely anticipated by labor leaders.

“We are disappointed but not surprised by this result,” said Cynthia McDougall, RN and President of HPAE Local 5089. “Our members have followed this case and they knew this would be an uphill battle with a conservative leaning Supreme Court. Today’s ruling only confirmed that.”

Acknowledging the short-term challenges presented by the decision, McDougall of HPAE Local 5089 representing some 1200 Registered Nurses in public healthcare facilities, including University Hospital, Rutgers University Biomedical and Health Science’s Division and Rowan University, said HPAE is already taking steps to comply with the ruling.

“HPAE members are ready to meet these new challenges,” McDougall said. “Our fight for protecting public healthcare services continues. This is just a new chapter in our fight against those who attack the rights of working people.”

“Strong unions make strong communities,” added Alexis Rean-Walker HPAE Local 5094 Co-President “Our members, our patients and clients that we provide care for understand that when health professionals stand together, we are a voice for our entire community.”

Ann Twomey pledged HPAE’s commitment to continue to organize new members as it has over the last 18 months as the Janus case made its way to the Supreme Court. The union also referred to a law signed by Governor Murphy giving public sector unions increased protections for organizing public workers at their work sites.

“This court got it wrong today,” Twomey said. “But as we move forward, we applaud Governor Murphy’s attempts to protect New Jersey’s working people.  We have an advocate in Trenton, and in November working people will head to the voting booth, the court of public opinion, and use their rights to make changes at the federal, state and local levels of government.”