American Addiction Center refuses to negotiate with frontline addiction treatment workers in the face of looming unfair labor practice strike

May 16, 2017

HPAE represents 120 nurses and addiction treatment workers at Sunrise House, affiliated with American Addiction Center, Inc. (AAC).    The treatment center is located in Lafayette, New Jersey.   The workers have been struggling to reach a fair contract for nine months following the union election victory last June.

AAC is under investigation by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for failing to bargain in good faith, discriminating against workers, and for failing to provide necessary information.

HPAE has given notice that workers intend to conduct a three-day strike commencing on May 24 if a settlement has not been reached.   Despite the union’s urging for more frequent negotiations, AAC refuses to meet until May 22.

Key issues are staff shortages, wages and safety conditions for both the staff and patients.

“When workers are subjected to hazardous conditions and unjust treatment, it is harmful to all.  I commend these frontline caregivers for standing up t to provide a secure and safe environment so patients can receive treatment in a manner that meets their needs,” said Twomey.

HPAE has requested the NLRB seek a temporary injunction against the employer in order to prevent further unfair labor practices (ULPs).  Sunrise House workers authorized the looming strike in response to these ULPs. Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency created to enforce safe and healthy workplaces, is investigating complaints about conditions at Sunrise House.

“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,” said Twomey.

The union has launched a YouTube channel that highlights examples of egregious practices that workers are demanding AAC address to improve working conditions and protect the rights of workers.

“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, and sacrificing patient care and harming workers for the sake of benefiting the financial interests of the owners of the company should be unacceptable,” said Twomey.

On Friday, May 12th Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) sent a letter to Michael Cartwright, AAC CEO to raise concerns over the lack of diversity among the Board of Directors of the company and the impact the lack of diversity at the highest levels of the company may have on working environment inside of their facilities.  The Board of Directors is conducting the annual meeting of AAC Shareholders on May 16, 2017 in Tennessee where they will vote to elect two new members to the Board.  The nominees listed on the company’s website are all men.

In the letter, Randi Weingarten states, “Employees and shareholders have a common interest in ensuring the long-term health and sustainability of AAC…We also request a formal investigation into the complaints of harassment of female employees by male managers, and request that clear, decisive steps be taken to ensure harassment of female employees will not be tolerated in AAC facilities.”

“As a union of healthcare workers, our goal is to come to an agreement with protections for patients and workers’ safety to ensure patients 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 Twomey.

The union has contacted the Federal Mediator in an attempt to schedule additional dates to bargain with AAC before the May 24th deadline.

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