Overwhelming Majority of HPAE Nurses Are Standing with Their Union to Fight for Patient Safety and Workers’ Rights

NLRB dismisses decertification attempt

Manahawkin, NJ – For nearly six months, negotiations between Hackensack Meridian Health and HPAE have been tenuous as 2,500 represented are fighting to put an end to intimidation tactics in their workplace and to demand safe patient limits in the interest of patient and worker safety. On Friday, October 5, 2018, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an independent federal government agency authorized with protecting workers’ rights and overseeing workers’ election of a labor union, informed both entities that a decertification election has been dismissed based on an insufficient percentage of Southern Ocean Medical Center (SOMC) nurses supported the petition to decertify the union.

“After receiving notice of an attempt to decertify our union, nurses were confident that this was a marginal group, while most nurses are standing together to demand a union contract that protects patient safety and workers’ rights.  For the last couple of years since the health systems merged, Hackensack Meridian has conducted an anti-union campaign that has been driven by consultants not by nurses,” said Debbie White, RN and HPAE President.

For the last two years Hackensack Meridian have disseminated literature and held meetings that were used to explain how nurses can leave the union, while also spreading misinformation about HPAE leaders.  Similar attempts have been made at other Hackensack Meridian but not to the same level as at SOMC.

“While nurses and health professionals continue to advocate for patient safety, corporate executives are leading efforts to intimidate and bully in attempt to silence our collective voice as a union of health professionals,” said Barbara Bosch, RN and President of HPAE Local 5138 at SOMC.  “Throughout these negotiations administration has refused to respond to our attempts to standardize safe patient limits,” said Bosch.

Charles Wowkanech, President of NJ State AFL-CIO voiced support for HPAE nurses at SOMC, “Unionized workers in New Jersey are standing together to improve working conditions and standards across industries. Unionized nurses are not only fighting for themselves but also for their patients in their hospitals. It is important for all of us to ensure the nurses at Southern Ocean Medical Center continue to be advocates and that they have the protections they need to speak up for their patients. The AFL-CIO will work with the nurses to demand Hackensack Meridian settle a contract that is fair for nurses and patients.”

Currently the nurses at SOMC are bargaining for a new contract as the last contract expired two months ago. Additionally, HPAE, the union representing nearly 2,500 healthcare professionals in HMH facilities, are bargaining for 900 nurses and health professionals of HPAE Local 5030 at Palisades Medical Center; 1,100 nurses of HPAE Local 5058 at Jersey Shore University Medical center. Contracts for all three facilities expired in July 2018.

On September 18, healthcare professionals at The Harborage, a nursing home in North Bergen, voted to ratify a new contract agreement reached with Hackensack Meridian.