The safety of our bargaining unit members were placed in jeopardy on Saturday, July 28th as another RN was injured while providing patient care. As the second incident of the year, HPAE members began to express their concern about the lack of security in comparison to the increase of aggressive patients being admitted to the facility. As a result, HPAE began an investigation into the security incidents that have occurred this year while also demanding that management formally address our issues.
After a week with no meaningful information from management, our members decided to attend the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders’ meeting on August 9th. At the meeting, HPAE Local 5112 President, Priscilla Surles, spoke to the Freeholders about the need to address the various safety and security concerns at Cornerstone as well as the importance of communication. Our presence was definitely noticed by the Freeholders as they attempted to quell our concerns by stating that they were unable to discuss the incident in detail because the matter is currently under investigation by the Union County Prosecutor’s office. Despite their efforts, the Freeholder Chairman, Sergio Granadas agreed to schedule a meeting with us to discuss our concerns, which is scheduled for August 22nd with the Union County Manager, Ed Oatman.
In addition, HPAE held a meeting with Karen Dinsmore, Assistant Director of Union County Department of Human Services on August 13th to address some of the obvious safety concerns that had been identified such as; lack of protective equipment, increase in video surveillance, and replace current security contract with Union County Officers. On the other hand, we were advised that management was in the process of installing more cameras as well as increase surveillance by the Union County Sheriff’s department, although they were unable to advise how that will increase security in the event of another violent incident.
Lastly, HPAE has requested dates to finish contract negotiations as we have been unable to meet for the past several months due to various scheduling conflicts. HPAE is awaiting a response from management for the next session, which we anticipate will resume in early September. Despite the fact that we have reached many tentative agreements with management, we still have a few key issues that remain outstanding that address staffing concerns and protecting certain benefits in the near future. HPAE will provide details when we receive more information, however let us continue to stand united so we may ensure our nurses and the patients we care for are protected.