Nurses Overwhelmingly Vote Yes

Southern Ocean Nurses to resume negotiations with Hackensack Meridian

November 14, 2018

(MANAHAWKIN, N.J.)— Unionized nurses at Southern Ocean Medical Center (SOMC) rejected an attempt to eliminate their union rights with a landslide victory vote on November 13 and 14. Of the 87 percent of nurses who came out to vote, 85 percent voted yes to remain members of HPAE, NJ’s largest union of nurses and healthcare professionals.

“Since our Local’s first vote to form our union in 2003, we have stood together to fight for protections that have improved patient safety and the workplace environment. Those improvements have allowed for the recruitment and retention of experienced nursing staff,” said Barbara Bosch, RN and President of HPAE Local 5138.  “Today’s vote just re-affirms that commitment by the nurses of SOMC.”

This vote was a more decisive vote than the original vote in 2003, when sixty-six percent of the nurses at SOMC voted in favor of forming a union with HPAE. At that time SOMC was a standalone community hospital.  Since then the hospital has affiliated first with Meridian Health, and most recently in 2016, the health system affiliated to form Hackensack Meridian Health, now the largest healthcare corporation in NJ operating hospitals and other healthcare facilities across the state.

After an aggressive anti-union campaign over the last five months of negotiations, a small group of nurses petitioned for an election. According to many nurses, NJ’s largest healthcare corporation in NJ had repeatedly attempted to take away protections the nurses had established in their previous contracts.

“Our nurses have sent a clear message to Hackensack Meridian that we will continue to stand together to protect patients and our rights. We will continue to demand the administration at SOMC listen to their professionals on the frontlines of providing treatment and care every day at our community hospital,” said Debbie White, RN, HPAE President.

Unionized nurses will return to the bargaining table on Thursday, November 15 to negotiate contracts for the 300 nurses of HPAE Local 5138 at Southern Ocean Medical Center and 1,100 nurses of HPAE Local 5058 at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. The contracts of both locals expired in July 2018.