Nearly a dozen public sector labor unions are working in coalition to demand Rutgers University and RWJ Barnabas guarantee workers and patients’ rights will be protected as the two entities enter into an affiliation agreement. While bargaining resumes for some of the unions, the coalition is also reaching out to the public to raise awareness on issues of common concern: 1) a long-term affiliation agreement between Rutgers University, RWJ Barnabas and Rutgers Health Group; and 2) a Certificate of need application to NJ Department of Health to end inpatient pediatric services at University Hospital.
Workers and patients held informational picketing events to inform the public and urge patients and families to join them in their efforts to inform and mobilize the community to demand accountability.
Tom Murphy, Research Teaching Specialist, Co-President of Health Professionals and Allied Employees HPAE Local 5094 said, “We are very concerned about the lack of transparency and refusal by Rutgers to share the precise details of the affiliation agreement with the public,” Murphy said. “When a public institution such as Rutgers enters into an affiliation agreement with a private company there must be over-sight and transparency, yet either entity is required to disclose this information with patients, workers and the community.”
Dr. Roger Johansen, President of the AAUP-BHSNJ medical school faculty union said he hopes Rutgers management takes the time to listen to the concerns of the community and its workers. “The prospect of members losing their jobs due to an affiliation agreement with no transparency is frightening to our members, especially those with twenty plus years of public service,” said Johansen. “We sincerely hope that Rutgers management engages with key stakeholders before rushing to transform the delivery of healthcare in New Jersey.”
“Rutgers is embarking on an extensive partnership with RWJ Barnabas without any concern for existing contracts with its unions. Rutgers should do the right thing and put their guarantees of job protections in writing.” said Kathleen Hernandez, EVP CWA Local 1031, AFL-CIO
Cynthia McDougal, RN, President of HPAE Nurses Local 5089 said, “HPAE and our labor coalition partners have met with legislators to demand all Pediatric services remain open at University Hospital. Closing Pediatric units may threaten access to healthcare services for children and families, particularly single parent and low-income families.” McDougal continued “As registered nurses we are concerned that the level of quality care that Newark’s children deserve is being jeopardized. We demand that they stop dismantling University Hospital.”
“Rutgers AAUP-AFT stands with the doctors, medical staff, and patients of University Hospital. This hospital must continue to serve the people of Newark as a public facility. We will not allow the Barchi-Strom junta to sell it to the highest bidder.” Stated David M. Hughes, Vice-President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT faculty union and Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University.
Informational picketing at Rutgers University and University Hospital and will continue every Wednesday.