HPAE’s bi-annual convention, celebrating 40 years of fighting for quality patient care and the rights of health care professionals, was held at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City on Thursday, October 9 and Friday, October 10. Over 250 HPAE members attended as delegates and guests.
Day 1 – Thursday
The HPAE convention began on Thursday with a provocative lunch-time presentation by Bill Fletcher, Jr., Bill identified the challenges facing the labor movement, and argued that we need to engage the members in discussions about the strategies required to revitalize the union movement.
In the afternoon, we held workshops on a variety of topics, ranging from strategic planning to fighting back against attacks on the public sector to developing communication skills.
At the evening social event, we honored HPAE’s “Heroes of Healthcare”, those who have provided key support for HPAE during the last two years.
Day 2 – Friday
The day began with a boisterous and enthusiastic reception for RNs from Inspira-Woodbury, who only 10 days before had overwhelmingly voted for HPAE representation in a National Labor Relations Board-sponsored election. The Woodbury RNs – our newest local – were accompanied into the convention hall by RNs from Local 5004, Englewood Hospital, HPAE’s first local union.
Our current state officers – President Ann Twomey, Vice President Bernie Gerard and Secretary-Treasurer Barbara Rosen were reelected for new, four year terms. In her State of the Union address, Ann reviewed HPAE’S accomplishments over the last 40 years and discussed our goals for the future.
Delegates also adopted convention resolutions that address the key challenges facing HPAE in our key program areas: collective bargaining and membership representation, new organizing, politics and public policy, education and leadership development, communication, and community and coalition-building.
Keynote speaker Mary MacDonald, who recently retired as Director of AFT Nurses and Health Professionals, focused on the changes that have occurred in healthcare over 40 years, emphasizing how we have moved from a system which focused on patient care to one dominated by large healthcare systems and the drive more profits.
During lunch, AFT President Randi Weingarten joined us to congratulate HPAE on our 40 years of work in building a strong, vital union of healthcare professionals. Randi lauded our alliances with the community to fight for quality patient care and better conditions for our members.
Continuing a convention tradition, each local union gave an award to a member or local officer who has been a key activist over the last two years. The HPAE “state” award was shared by the Co-Presidents of Local 5103/American Red Cross, Renee Conyers and Judy Merkowsky (see photo on left of Judy and Renee with the state officers), who were honored by HPAE for their dedicated leadership to the local. Finally, the State Executive Council gave HPAE President Ann Twomey a gift for her 40 years of service and the magnificent leadership she has provided to HPAE.
Larry Lipschultz, HPAE’s Organizing Director, facilitated a panel discussion on major milestones in HPAE’s 40 years as a union, including the establishment of our first local at Englewood Hospital, our major breakthrough in the public sector with the organizing victory of RNs at UMDNJ, and the difficult but ultimately successful strike at Jersey Shore Medical Center. The final panelist, Amy Chew, an RN at Local 5621/ Inspira-Woodbury, provided a fitting bookmark to end our 40th year anniversary convention when she said that Inspira-Woodbury RNs voted for HPAE to have a “real voice” at work.