Barnabas Partnership Update

April 23, 2018

With the Rutgers, Rutgers Health Group and RWJ Barnabas Health partnership scheduled to go into to effect on July 1, 2018, our union, HPAE, along with our union coalition partners, continue to be very concerned about the precise details of the affiliation and its impact on our members. When a public institution such as Rutgers enters into a partnership with a private company there must be oversight and transparency.

State Oversight & Transparency

After months of extensive lobbying by the Rutgers Union Coalition and many of our members, we are seeing these efforts take shape. On Tuesday, April 17th, Senator Linda Greenstein introduced S2524: Regulates partnerships between Rutgers University and private entities for provision of medical or health-related services or graduate medical education. This islegislation that would regulate partnerships between Rutgers University and private entities for the provision of medical or health-related services or graduate medical education.

When the former UMDNJ schools and units where transferred to Rutgers in 2013, we successfully advocated for and won significant legal protections for workers, patients and the communityWe are mobilizing again to ensure similar protections will be in place under this new public-private partnership.

If enacted, the bill will preserve jobs, seniority, wages and benefits for Rutgers employees; protect our collective bargaining rights; maintain community access to healthcare services in Newark and New Brunswick; ensure responsible use of tax-payer and public funds; preserve the status of University Hospital as the primary teaching hospital; and require regulatory approval and oversight of these types of partnerships.

Contract Negotiations

Beginning this week Rutgers’ Unions are presenting in negotiations an extensive package of proposals related to this partnership and any future ones that may come along. The proposals, developed by the Rutgers Union Coalition, demand protections for job security, no changes in public employee status and benefits, no layoffs due to a partnership for 5 years, no supervision of Rutgers’ employees by partners, and preservation of Rutgers work.

Our three HPAE locals will begin presenting these proposals to Rutgers next week.

Attorney General

We’ve also sent a request to the New Jersey Attorney General to review the proposed partnership and its compliance with the law in three areas: (1) the role of University Hospital as the principal teaching hospital for the New Jersey Medical and Dental Schools; (2) the transfer of approximately $10 billion from Rutgers to RWJBH over a period of twenty years; and (3) conflicts of interest embedded in the establishment of a partnership between Rutgers and RWJBH.

University Hospital

There is concern that this partnership will negatively impact University Hospital and the services it provides to the community. Although the Restructuring Act guarantees University Hospital its place as the primary teaching hospital for Newark public medical education the partnership establishes an exclusive relationship with RWJ Barnabas Health and Rutgers’ Graduate Medical Education. Already University Hospital has given notice that it intends to close Pediatrics and the Pediatrics ICU with plans to send these patients to Beth Israel Barnabas Health.

Our nurses are fighting to keep these services at University Hospital. They see the value to the community. They’ve met with Newark Mayor Baraka, gathered signatures of support from the public, and will be at the May University Hospital Community Oversight Board to ask it to review University Hospital’s decision.  Coming up there will be a Town Hall sponsored by Mayor Baraka to publicly discuss the closures.

PERC (Public Employee Relations Commission)

Despite making several requests to Rutgers for information about the partnership HPAE and all the Unions have been provided with no information whatsoever. Charges were filed by HPAE with PERC and this week HPAE and Rutgers will be at a mandatory PERC meeting that begins the process for enforcing the laws which require Rutgers to produce the information.

Stand Up. Fight Back. Be Heard.

Our ability to mobilize as a union over the next several months will be crucial towards defining how this partnership will impact our members and the Rutgers community. We must speak up to protect our jobs, our patients, the students and the communities we serve.   There will be many calls for participation in the coming weeks. Your involvement is crucial. This is a union-wide issue that is not tied to positions affected by the partnership only. Across the board, we must demand that Rutgers be responsible to its employees, its students, and to the patients and communities we serve and live in.