AFT Vice President
Debbie White is a Registered Nurse and President of Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE), the largest healthcare union in New Jersey. With 14,000 members, HPAE was founded by White's well-respected predecessor, Ann Twomey, and includes nurses, social workers, CNAs, phlebotomists, dietary workers, environmental workers, lab techs, pharmacy techs and respiratory therapists.
White, a fierce advocate for quality patient care and worker’s rights, got her start as a staff nurse at Virtua Memorial Hospital in New Jersey, and was present in 1996 when its nurses organized with HPAE as Local 5105. White served as president of Local 5105 for eight years before winning election as president of HPAE.
As HPAE president, White has brought her avid advocacy for healthcare workers to many burning issues in both state and national spheres. On safe staffing, while HPAE has found success through collective bargaining, White continues to fight for enforceable staffing regulations at the state and national level. She has also become an expert in addressing workplace violence, filing multiple OSHA complaints when staff were injured by violent patients and pursuing a national OSHA standard for workplace violence.
In fighting for worker safety during the COVID pandemic in New Jersey, HPAE under White’s guidance filed OSHA claims resulting in citations for employers who have failed to protect their frontline caregivers. HPAE also successfully pushed the Essential Workers Bill which provides an automatic presumption that essential workers who contract COVID, did so in the workplace. In addition, HPAE drafted legislation that mandates employers to report exposure, sickness and fatalities from COVID.
White also continues to dedicate herself to the fight against privatization and corporatization of healthcare systems in New Jersey and across the nation.