Addiction Treatment Workers Set to Strike if Agreement on Patient, Worker Safety Concerns is Not Reached

Friday, May 12, 2017

After nine months of bargaining for patient and worker safety at the for-profit owned Sunrise House, addiction treatment workers represented by HPAE have informed administration of their intent to conduct a three day Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike at the facility in Lafayette, NJ, if an agreement is not reached by May 24th at 7:00AM.

“As a union of healthcare workers, our goal is to come to an agreement with protections for patients and workers’ safety to ensure they receive quality treatment.   AAC’s numerous unfair labor practices have made reaching a fair deal very difficult, and have compelled employees to consider collective action to protect the interests of their patients and their colleagues,” said Ann Twomey, President of HPAE.

Throughout negotiations with management, workers at Sunrise House have proposed improvements in working conditions to alleviate staff shortages and reduce the exposure of patients and workers to hazardous conditions.

“During the height of an opioid addiction crisis, treatment facilities such as Sunrise House must uphold standards of care so patients can successfully recover and move our state towards reducing the number of patients who are fighting addiction in their lives.  Incidents of violence, harassment, and abuse of workers’ rights are being investigated by state and federal regulators which we believe will bring to light the extent these deplorable conditions have impacted care,” added Twomey.

In formal charges filed with the NLRB, the union alleges that Sunrise House, which is owned by the for-profit national chain, American Addition Centers, has violated the rights of the employees, made unilateral changes in working conditions and failed to bargain in good faith with the union.  HPAE has also requested the NLRB seek a temporary injunction against the employer in order to prevent further unfair labor practices (ULPs). Additionally, complaints have been filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency created to enforce safe and healthy workplaces and an investigation into the matter is ongoing.

“Employers, such as AAC, must not be allowed to continue to get away with egregious practices of abusing employees’ rights and violating patients’ safety.  AAC is a profit driven company, which is unacceptable when patient care is sacrificed and workers’ are harmed for the sake of benefiting the financial interests of the owners of the company, and not patient recovery,” added Twomey.

The union has launched a youtube channel to highlight examples of egregious practices that workers are demanding AAC address to improve working conditions and protect the rights of workers. The 120 addiction treatment workers voted to join HPAE in June 2016, shortly after AAC purchased the facility which was previously operated by a non-profit organization.  After the vote workers elected a bargaining committee to represent their interests at the bargaining table.

Bargaining is expected to resume the week of May 21, 2017 when a Federal Mediator will attend to attempt to mediate an agreement between the workers and management before the May 24th deadline.

For more information, please contact Bridget Devane @ (732) 996-5493