For Immediate Release – June 5, 2014
Jersey City, NJ
After they were threatened with a lock-out of Registered Nurses by the for-profit CarePoint Health owners, nurses and healthcare workers at both Christ Hospital in Jersey City and Bayonne Medical Center started wearing red ribbons in a show of union support by nurses and health care workers.
Negotiations at Christ Hospital between CarePoint Health and the Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) which represents the 400 Registered Nurses at the hospital, reached a crisis point shortly before the contract’s expiration date of May 31. Though the nurses pledged to continue bargaining beyond the contract’s end without any disruption in care, the hospital negotiators issued an ultimatum to the nurses.
“We were told that unless we agreed to their terms, nurses would be locked out of our hospital,” said Nicole Mankowski, an RN and president of the HPAE local at Christ Hospital. “This is still our community hospital, and we fought to keep this hospital open in 2012 when CarePoint owners (then called HudsonHoldco) bought it at bargain prices. We are still fighting – this time to protect patient care, and secure safe nurse staffing levels for our patients.”
The nurses are winning support in the community – both Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith sent letters to CarePoint hospitals CEOs, stating, “I urge CarePoint owners to respect the rights of the workforce at all three hospitals, to pledge to bargain in good faith, and to refrain from threats that would interrupt patient care.”
“This is an issue for all of Hudson County,” said John Bauer, an RN and president of the HPAE local at Bayonne Medical Center. “We believe their agenda is to consolidate and increase profits – at the expense of care, of our communities and of caregivers. We fought and sacrificed to save our community hospital when it was sold, and we intend to keep fighting to protect our community’s health care.”
Healthcare workers belonging to 1199J/AFSCME at Hoboken Medical Center are also bargaining a new contract with CarePoint, and in May, the Hudson County Freeholders passed a resolution urging CarePoint to bargain fairly with healthcare workers at all three Hudson County hospitals.
The union pointed to the more than $69 million in profits the CarePoint owners have made at the three hospitals since purchasing Bayonne Medical Center in 2008, as well as to news reports that Bayonne Medical Center was once again the most expensive hospital in the nation.
“What would happen to our patients,” said Mankowski, “if nurses are kept from the bedside? What does this say about the corporate agenda of these owners, who are consolidating their company, boosting profits and charges to sky-high levels, and yet locking out their nurses rather than bargaining fairly or sharing their plans with caregivers or the community?”
Bargaining is continuing at all three hospitals, and nurses from Jersey City are beginning a public petition drive urging the hospital owners to continue bargaining in good faith with the nurses and health care workers.
For more information, Contact: Ann Twomey (201)424-5767 or Jeanne Otersen 201-280-9279