Nurses at Complete Care at the Harborage, a 245-bed long-term nursing care facility in North Bergen, are now waiting for the NLRB to certify their vote today to join HPAE.
“Today is a great day for these nurses because they now have a voice in their workplace to make positive changes through collective action,” HPAE President Debbie White, RN, said. “We now urge the employer to negotiate a contract with the staffing standards that these nurses need so they can safely care for their patients.”
On a beautiful, sunny day, the nurses voted as observers from the union, the NLRB and Complete Care observed the voting.
Mary Middleton, who has worked at Harborage for more than 30 years, said the victory will help get more nurses in the facility which will help with working conditions and in retention of staff which will help nurses do a better job caring for their patients.
“The patients count on us,” she said. “This is their home.”
Middleton said some of the reasons nurses petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to join New Jersey’s largest union of healthcare workers include a lack of safe staffing and a general lack of respect for workers by the employer.
“As a State Senator, I am proud to support the commendable decision of our dedicated nurses to join the Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) Local 5097,” Stack said in a written statement. “Supporting nurses in their decision to join a union like HPAE is crucial for advocating fair wages, better working conditions, and enhanced patient care.
“Our nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system, selflessly providing care to our communities each and every day. As essential members of the healthcare system, nurses deserve to have their voices heard and their rights protected. By joining together in a union like HPAE, nurses can have a powerful and unified voice, allowing them to address concerns and fight for their best interests. This collaboration fosters a positive environment where the needs and contributions of nurses are recognized and valued, ultimately benefiting both the nurses and the communities they serve.”
“This is exactly what we’ve been fighting for, to join a union,” an elated Nelly Rodriguez, a nurse who has worked at the facility for 31 years, said after the vote. “We can now negotiate workplace issues, including worker safety and proper level of staffing to properly care for our patients.”
More than 120 workers at The Harborage—Certified Nursing Assistants, Housekeepers, and Dietary Staff—are already members of HPAE Local 5097.
“This is great,” Yasmine Peralta, who has worked at the facility for 13 years, said after the vote tally was announced that the facility’s more than 40 nurses are now members of the union. “This gives us a voice in our workplace. I am more hopeful today than at any time I’ve ever been in this place that we can create real equity, fight for our patients and protect our jobs all at the same time.”
Unsafe staffing had led to an unsustainable staff attrition rate, she said. A union changes the power dynamics, giving workers a say in how to tackle workplace issues that had proven difficult to tackle in the past, she added.
“This is what we fought for, to have Complete Care be a partner in our efforts to care for our patients,” Edith Portillo said.
For more information, contact: Michael Allen, (646) 436-7556.