Sunrise House Workers Vote Yes for a 1st Contract - Health Professionals & Allied Employees

Sunrise House Workers Vote Yes for a 1st Contract

Patients, Workers to return to Sunrise House upon approval from the State of NJ

On Friday, June 16 addiction treatment workers voted overwhelmingly to ratify a first contract agreement with American Addiction Centers (AAC), which owns Sunrise House in Lafayette, NJ.  After reviewing the details of the agreement, the 120 workers represented by HPAE ended their picket line to vote on the agreement.

“We have gained significant improvements that will increase the safety for the staff and patients.  The financial gains and safer working conditions will also help retain experienced of staff.  We are proud of what we accomplished for our members and for our patients,” said Sheila Tubridy Schicker, LPN, member of HPAE’s bargaining committee.

Throughout negotiations workers raised concerns over adequate staff needed to provide treatment for patients, and to provide security and protect patients and workers. This contract will increase staffing levels by:
·         Hiring five full-time employees and for which administration will consult with the staff to prioritize which areas of the facility need to increase positions, and
·         Establishing a per diem pool, with incentives to recruit per diem staff.

In addition to staffing, security concerns were addressed through numerous provisions in the contract that will provide:
·         cameras and improved lighting,
·         staff resource team to deal with potential violent situations,
·         doors locked outside and open on inside,
·         single entrance to the facility which will be closed after 9 pm, and
·         joint labor-management safety committee.

“We are pleased that AAC is committed to provide professional training to enhance our skills.  This is a win-win for both sides.” said Katie Vaughan, LPN member of HPAE’s bargaining committee.

The contract not only provides for improvements for patient and worker safety, but also offers increases in pay for every worker in the facility. Staff on the lower end of the pay scale will receive greater increases.   Over the three years of the contract workers will receive 10% wage increases across the board.  Additional financial increases will be offered throughout the terms of the contract.

In the first year of the contract employees who currently earn:
·         below $12 per hour will be increased to $12 per hour, and
·         between $12 per hour and $22 per hour will earn an additional $1 per hour.

In the second and third years of the contract employees will be recognized for their years of service, including:
·         Employees with more than 5 years of service but less than 10 years will receive an additional $.25 per hour.
·         Employees with more than 10 years of service will receive an additional $.50 per hour.

Upon conclusion of negotiations, Sunrise House contacted the Department of Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services which regulates and monitors substance abuse treatment centers, to begin the process to authorize the reopening of the facility.

“As a union of healthcare workers, our goal is to protect patients and workers, and we are working with state regulators and lawmakers to ensure patients can access treatment services at Sunrise House,” said Ann Twomey, President of HPAE.   “We are looking forward to working together with AAC to publicly promote the good work we do together especially throughout the labor movement in New Jersey.”

HPAE is the largest union of registered nurses and health care professionals in New Jersey. Since its founding by Englewood Hospital nurses in 1974, HPAE has expanded across the state and into Southeastern Pennsylvania representing 13,000 nurses, social workers, therapists, technicians, medical researchers, and other health care professionals in hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies, blood banks, and university research facilities.  HPAE is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

For immediate release: June 16, 2017
For more information contact: Bridget Devane 732-996-5493