RNs at Memorial Hospital of Salem County (MHSC), who are represented by HPAE Local 5142, have just won a big victory.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the nurses and upheld an order for the hospital to enter contract negotiations with the nurses. The decision followed hearings held in September to determine whether the Memorial Hospital of Salem County (MHSC) violated the law by refusing to recognize nurses who voted for union representation at the hospital five years ago.
In September 2010 Salem nurses voted to join the HPAE, the largest healthcare union in NJ representing over 12,000 healthcare workers. Since then, the hospital has refused to bargain a contract with nurses as required by federal labor law, instead appealing the election results. The dispute finally landed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Community Health Systems, the company that owns and operates MHSC, announced earlier this month that it entered into an agreement to sell MHSC to Prime Healthcare Foundation, the nonprofit division of the for-profit company Prime Healthcare Services based out of California. Prime healthcare Services has also acquired St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic, St. Clare’s three hospitals in Morris County, and currently awaits regulatory approval for St. Michael’s Hospital in Newark.
The potential sale of MHSC will still have to go through a regulatory process at the NJ Department of Health to ensure that the sale is in the public interest. According to the union, if the proposed sale goes through, it would not diminish the union rights nurses have voted for and won.
“Nurses voted to join HPAE so they would have a voice in working conditions to improve patient care at the hospital, said Ann Twomey, President of HPAE. “We are thrilled that the Court ruled in favor or nurses and we look forward to bargaining with the hospital to improve patient care for Salem patients, families, and community.”