Lobby Day was a great success. Over 300 members of HPAE and other healthcare unions in the Coalition for Patients Rights and Safe Staffing (CPRSS) came to Trenton to talk to state legislators about the need for staffing legislation, including nurse to patient staffing ratios, which ensure quality care and patient safety.
Our union coalition partner, the Rutgers AAUP-AFT faculty, have reached a tentative agreement for a new contract with Rutgers. Their agreement includes an important provision to protect raises that we too have been fighting for in our contract. Winning this provision was necessary due to the University's decision to freeze wages in 2010.
On Monday, March 2, the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority released the long-awaited "Navigant" report providing an evaluation of healthcare services in the Greater Newark area and recommendations for consolidation and reorganization of services.
HPAE President Ann Twomey released the following statement after the report was published:
Rutgers has the money.
Rutgers has raised more than $1 billion in donations and has another $700 million in unrestricted funds, so why are faculty and staff being told to accept tiny raises after years of frozen wages? What's more, management wants us to accept contracts with 'subject to' language used to freeze our wages until 2010.
The 20,000 union workers at Rutgers deserve real contracts with guaranteed raises.
Contract negotiations with Rutgers' administration have been underway for nearly six months. We are still far apart on wages and the administration continues to reject proposals to provide us the same tuition remission and parking benefits as our Rutgers Legacy counterparts—gains that a majority of members indicated are important. Complicating matters, the administration insists that any wage increase must be "subject to" appropriations by the State Legislature. Rutgers used this provision to justify a wage freeze in 2010 for Rutgers Legacy employees.