For Immediate Release: July 31, 2014 Contact: Jeanne Otersen 201-280-9279
What began as contentious negotiations between health care workers represented by the Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) and the owners of CarePoint Hospitals in Bayonne and Jersey City ended with tentative agreements reached for new collective bargaining agreements at both hospitals in the early morning hours of Thursday, July 31. The new agreements, both with an expiration date of June 30, 2015, will be voted on by HPAE locals at Christ Hospital in Jersey City and Bayonne Medical Center next week.
With more than 1200 nurses and health care workers at both hospitals, HPAE union leaders had been seeking joint bargaining to improve standards for safe staffing levels and policies for worker retention, including protection for health insurance coverage and retirement security. HPAE and CarePoint began joint negotiations covering both hospital contracts late last week. The contract at Christ Hospital had expired on May 31, and at Bayonne Medical Center was due to expire on July 31.
“With this tentative agreement, we have improved patient safety by increasing nurse staffing levels,” said Nicole Mankowski, an RN and president of the HPAE local at Christ Hospital. “That was always our goal and our commitment to this community.”
After outcry from community leaders and elected officials, hospital owners pulled back on earlier lock-out threats and negotiations began to make headway, according to HPAE leaders.
“The support of our elected officials and community leaders made a major difference to our ability to include strong staffing improvements in both of our contracts,” said Ann Twomey, president of the 12,000 member HPAE union. “We were always determined to set strong standards for patient safety and care in both the Bayonne and Jersey City communities.”
“This is an agreement that reflects our priorities as caregivers in both Jersey City and Bayonne communities, and an agreement that will help us recruit and retain qualified staff for both hospitals,” said John Bauer, an RN and president of the HPAE local at Bayonne Medical Center. It was important that we spoke as one group at the bargaining table, to set the standards our communities need and deserve.”
Both groups of workers will hold membership meetings next week to vote on approval of the tentative agreements, and details will be held until the membership meetings.