Local 5138 members voted overwhelmingly yesterday to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement with Meridian Health. At the same time, Local 5058 members at Jersey Shore Medical Center voted in favor of their settlement with Meridian. The contracts, which both expire July 31, 2017, cover 1,200 RNs represented by the Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE), the state’s largest healthcare union.
The new contract agreement includes staffing improvements and other measures including:
- 7-12% wage increases over the 21-month contract term.
- Staffing improvements at each hospital, including addition of admission and discharge RNs when a unit census increases at SOMC; and review of staffing plans to improve nursing work flow and staff skill mix needed for patient care.
- Improved healthcare and network access, decreases in premiums for a majority of members and maintenance of deductible, prescription, vision and dental costs.
- Restrictions on the hospital floating nurses without proper training and financial incentives for nurses who volunteer to provide care in other units.
- Measures to improve orientation and education of new RNs.
- 100% tuition reimbursement for part-time RNs up to $2,500
Both locals achieved good contracts as a result of membership support and outreach to the community. During the negotiations, nurses met with Township committees and community members to gain support for safe staffing legislation, ran an active social media campaign, and took out a mobile billboard to educate the community about the importance of safe staffing.
“Although these were challenging negotiations, nurses remained committed to a contract that retains quality registered nurses at the bedside so we can give our patients the best care possible,” said Sally Fessler, R.N., and president of HPAE Local 5138.