On August 31 Cooper announced that it had executed a Letter of Intent to acquire Trinity Health’s New Jersey facilities. There are two Lourdes Hospitals (Camden and Burlington) and Saint Francis in Trenton.
As the certified bargaining representative of the nurses at Cooper we sent a request for information that included a demand to bargain over the effects of the acquisition as to how this will affect us. Cooper denied our initial request for information. Subsequently HPAE sent a follow up letter to Cooper. We are awaiting their response.
As a Union we support the potential acquisition however, we will be closely monitoring the transition as it goes through the regulatory process. We need to ensure that benefits for our patients, our community as we take steps to enforce and protect our rights as Union nurses. HPAE members in other hospitals have gone through hospital mergers, sales and acquisitions. Our HPAE leaders are well versed in the legal steps necessary to complete such a transition.
Below are answers to questions that you have asked us.
- Can Cooper assign us to work at Lourdes and or Saint Francis? The Letter of Intent Cooper submitted for the acquisition states that Cooper, Lourdes and Saint Francis will remain separate employers, but as this process moves forward we will keep you updated on this situation.
- Can Cooper stop providing particular services at our hospital and force us to reapply for a job at any of the other hospitals? As an employer, Cooper has the right to determine what services they are going to provide to the community although they may need to wait until Government regulators approved any applications to alter services. No employer can make us apply for a job.
- Can the nurses at Lourdes take our jobs at Cooper if they have more seniority working at Lourdes? No. Our Union contract protects our seniority.
- Will the nurses’ seniority at Lourdes merge into our seniority list? No. If the acquisition goes through the hospitals are going to remain separate employers, at least initially.
- Will the benefits in our Union contract automatically change? No. We have a signed contract for the period covering June 1, 2017 through June 1, 2020. Nothing in our Union contract can automatically change.
- Will the nurses at Lourdes automatically be in our Union? Do they have to form a Union? No, not automatically however, the argument can be made that the work that is done by a nurse in their respective units is the same work done at the three hospitals.
- When will the acquisition be complete? The process may take up to one year to complete from the submission date of the Letter of Intent.