Salem Hospital Nurses Bargain for Patient and Worker Rights in First Contract - Health Professionals & Allied Employees

Salem Hospital Nurses Bargain for Patient and Worker Rights in First Contract

For immediate release: Friday, November 18, 2016

As negotiation between Registered Nurses and management at Memorial Hospital of Salem County (MHSC) have become challenging, both sides agreed to have a federal mediator join negotiations on Friday, November 18.

After six years of legal challenges by MHSC, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals had ordered the hospital to comply with federal labor law and bargain with HPAE, the union representing 120 nurses at the hospital. Bargaining began in April of 2016, and union nurses believe the intervention of a mediator will help negotiations proceed.

“After a long six years of failed legal challenges, nurses are looking forward to a day when we have a contract that protects the health and safety of our patients and workers,” said Pamela Thomas, an RN who has worked at the hospital for 11 years and serves on the HPAE Local 5142 bargaining committee. “Given the history of these corporate owners of our hospital and their attempts to block our rights, we are looking for a contract that provides strong protections for our right to speak up for ourselves and our patients.”

In October, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld an order that called on the hospital to bargain with the union over employee disciplines; provide the union with requested information; and rescind unilateral changes around the dress code policy; and post an order informing employees of their rights.

The hospital’s current owner Community Health Systems (CHS) announced in December 2015 that they are selling the 126-bed MHSC to Prime Healthcare Foundation, a nonprofit division of the for-profit national hospital system Prime Healthcare Services based in California.  CHS submitted a Certificate of Need application to the NJ Department of Health in February 2015 and the sale is pending regulatory approval to ensure that the sale is in the public interest.

“As a nurse I work to protect the health and safety of my patients every day. As a union leader I stand with my colleagues to guarantee the hospital can no longer disregard our legal rights and that our union contract will be there to protect nurses who stand up for patient safety at our hospital,” added Thomas.

For more information, contact Bridget Devane (732) 996-5493.