April 7, 2020
Statement from HPAE President Debbie White, RN on firing of nurse for defending rights of another
We are one month into a battle against the pandemic outbreak in New Jersey, the likes of which we have never seen and NJ is facing a potential healthcare worker shortage. Despite the great need for frontline caregivers, Hackensack Meridian Health is intimidating and silencing employees on the frontlines of this battle. Last night, I was informed of the termination of Adam Witt, a nurse at Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center and President of HPAE Local 5058, which represents 1,200 nurses at the hospital. Witt was fired for simply defending a fellow nurse being disciplined by Hackensack Meridian.
This is no time for heavy handed tactics targeting nurses and healthcare workers who speak out to protect themselves and their colleagues. During these challenging times, we would expect employers instead to work collaboratively with labor to recruit and retain nurses and healthcare workers who are in high demand at this time. Unfortunately, Hackensack Meridian is more focused on silencing the voice of those battling this pandemic than working with them. As a union of 14,000 frontline caregivers, we will stand with our members who are advocates for the health and safety of both healthcare workers and patients.
Today HPAE has filed a charge against Hackensack Meridian for unlawful discipline and termination of unionized healthcare workers and for retaliating against their workers who are not only providing care, but demanding to have the protective equipment theyneed to stay safe on the front lines.
These are difficult times for all. Our union members will continue to stand together to defend the right of workers to demand the protections they need in the war against COVIC-19. Hackensack Meridian Health should stand with healthcare professionals like Adam Witt, not intimidate and silence them.