Nurses, Health Professionals elect new state officers at HPAE’s 2018 Convention

NJ’s Largest Healthcare Union Honors 44-year Service of Ann Twomey, Founder of HPAE in Retirement

October 5, 2018

Atlantic City, NJ – Hundreds of nurses and health professionals gathered in Atlantic City on Friday to recognize the leadership of Ann Twomey as she retired as President of HPAE, NJ’s largest healthcare union. Bernie Gerard, First Vice President also retired.  In addition, union members elected a new HPAE leadership team: Debbie White, RN, President; Barbara Rosen, First Vice President; and Alexis Rean-Walker, Secretary Treasurer.

Since 1974, under the leadership of Ann Twomey, HPAE has led numerous public campaigns designed to protect patient care and working conditions in NJ hospitals, including a ban on forced overtime for RNs, public disclosure of staffing levels, transparency at for-profit hospitals and a ban on surprise medical bills. During her tenure, the union grew from 250 members at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center to nearly 14,000 nurses and health professionals across New Jersey and Philadelphia.

Bernie Gerard was a trauma nurse at University Hospital, and a founding leader in 1989 of the union’s largest public sector local at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in Newark, and also served on various boards and committees to advance professional and nurse practice issues.

“From the early days of our union’s history to this day our union has been a voice in hospitals, in communities and the NJ state legislature for patient safety and standing up against attacks on the rights of healthcare workers,” said Debbie White, incoming president. “I proudly intend to carry this legacy forward as we face enormous challenges in an increasingly corporatized healthcare system.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million American Federation of Teachers, was a keynote speaker at the convention, acknowledging the long history and accomplishments of both Ann Twomey and Bernie Gerard, as well as Ann Twomey’s role as a Vice-President of the AFT.

“Your union is on the front lines of some of the most serious fights facing healthcare in our country: corporate takeover of community hospitals, and safe staffing initiatives so patients get the care they deserve. But hospital management is trying to undermine your power at every turn. Ann’s investment in this organization, her courage and her leadership has prepared HPAE for this moment, and I know the new officers are ready to keep fighting,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

In her closing comments at HPAE’s 2018 convention, Ann Twomey said to the union members gathered in Atlantic City: “With the corporatization of health care, we must organize more members, build stronger contract campaigns and elect people who support our priority issues, such as access to affordable and quality healthcare for all and Safe Staffing levels. We are closer than ever to passing safe patient limits in NJ. Looking ahead, I know that HPAE is in good strong hands as you move forward to meet these challenges.”