Taken from NJ.com
April 10, 2021
The state’s largest nurse and health care worker union filed 24 complaints over employee safety violations during the pandemic, and will seek a larger role through contract negotiations in determining how hospitals, nursing homes and other health care employers respond to emergencies, its president said.
HPAE, Health Professionals and Allied Employees learned a lot over the last year, namely, “We were not prepared at all for any pandemic or crisis situation and we need to have worker input,” HPAE President Debbie White said.
The union will be negotiating 11 contracts this year, and besides the usual issues of wages and benefits, union leaders want a seat on any committees that deal with disaster and pandemic planning, she said.
HPAE negotiated at contract with Virtua Health last year that called for a joint management-employee pandemic planning committee, White added.
“Clearly we know what went wrong. Workers were unprotected,” White said. “When you see the OSHA violations, worker safety was not paramount. Not only did they not have the PPE (personal protective equipment) they needed, they didn’t have the training, the (COVID-19) testing and contact tracing, employers did not make that a priority.”