Healthcare Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) is endorsing Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle in the Democratic Party primary race to replace Loretta Weinberg in the New Jersey Senate.
HPAE President Debbie White, RN, said New Jersey’s largest union of nurses and healthcare workers is choosing Huttle because she is a longtime champion of working people. “Valerie has answered the call on many occasions when HPAE members reached out to her in their struggles for economic justice and workplace protections,” she said.
“I am honored to have received the endorsement of HPAE and so many other progressive organizations who have evaluated my record and my advocacy and have made the decision to support my candidacy,” Huttle said. “As District 37’s Assemblywoman, I have proudly stood with HPAE members, walking the picket line and demanding workplace protections. And, as Assemblywoman, I have championed the passage of legislation to better support our healthcare workers. As Senator, I will continue to champion legislation that seeks to uplift and support our frontline heroes. It is critical that we continue to elect legislators who will not just vote for the bills that support workers, but that will do the hard work of sitting with advocates and union leaders, crafting legislation that best addresses the needs of our communities. I am thankful for HPAE’s support and I look forward to continuing our work together to push for progress and change in the State Senate.”
In making this decision, HPAE leaders took into consideration the many times Huttle was there by their side, including on the picket line with HPAE members as they fought in 1997 to save Bergen Pines, now known as Bergen New Bridge Medical Center. HPAE First Vice-President Barbara Rosen was part of that fight in 1997 and works as a nurse at the hospital even today.
“We are lucky in this district to have such outstanding public servants to choose from but, in the end, our choice of Valerie is because she is a champion of working people. She has time and again walked the walk and talked the talk for our members and supported bills in the Assembly that have protected healthcare workers and patient safety,” Rosen said.
“A prime example of her drive and commitment to improving conditions for healthcare workers,” HPAE Local 5004 President Alice Barden, RN said, “is Huttle’s help in fighting to bring the healthcare worker COVID data transparency bill to a vote in the assembly.”
After approval in the senate last summer, the bill became stalled in the assembly for months.
Despite all the data available on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, hospitals were not required to report the number of medical staff who have fallen ill or died from the coronavirus. HPAE championed legislation to require hospitals to track sick workers.
“While others were working kill the bill, she advocated on workers’ behalf. We would not have had a bill at all without Huttle pushing for it,” Barden said.
“Valerie has never wavered in her support for workers,” Barden added. “She was with us when she was a member of the county Board of Freeholders, walking the picket line in 2004, 15 years ago, all the way till now as she fights to make sure healthcare workers have the protections they need so they could continue doing their life-saving work in every healthcare facility.”
Huttle is working on legislation to fight the dissemination of fake personal protective equipment in hospitals, an issue that HPAE members have confronted and filed complaints with the state Department of Health and Federal OSHA.
“We need a fighter in Trenton,” Huttle said, vowing to be that fighter. “When you look at senate District 37, it’s probably one of the more progressive districts in the state. I want to keep that senate seat a progressive seat. I have a lot to be proud of in my work on behalf of working people but I also have a lot more to do.”