May 4, 2018
Patient safety and workers’ rights will top the agenda when HPAE nurses and health professionals begin bargaining with several large healthcare corporations across New Jersey over the next few weeks including Hackensack Meridian Health, CarePoint Health, Englewood Medical Center, Hudson Regional Hospital and the Visiting Nurse Association. As New Jersey’s largest healthcare union, HPAE strives to not only ensure all healthcare workers are treated fairly and equitably by their employers, but also that patients receive safe and affordable treatment. With 13,000 members, HPAE nurses and health professionals are negotiating to bring improvements to the delivery and cost of healthcare for New Jersey residents.
From now until July 31, HPAE members will sit down with healthcare executives and management to bargain for contracts that guarantee nurse staffing levels are adequate to provide safe patient care. At the bargaining table, HPAE will continue to demand large healthcare employers do more to put patient care and workers’ rights ahead of fostering corporate profits.
Study after study point to when staff are caring for too many patients, mistakes are more likely to be made and impedes upon patient care. “HPAE at every bargaining table will present ways to increase patient safety – and having safe staffing levels in place is the best way to ensure the necessary number of nursing and ancillary staff are on-hand to serve patient needs,” Twomey pointed out.
At Jersey Shore University Medical Center, HPAE Local 5058 and Southern Ocean Medical Center, HPAE Local 5138, nurses are paying higher out-of-pocket medical costs for in-network care, while also being hit with surprise medical bills even when receiving care at their own Hackensack Meridian Health hospital. These high costs and unexpected bills were the impetus for the union supporting the “Out-Of-Network” legislation sponsored by Senator Vitale and Assemblyman Coughlin, which is currently waiting to be signed by Governor Murphy.
“Unionized health professionals are fighting high medical bills and unscrupulous billing practices that all too often lead to insurmountable debt for caregivers and their patients,” Twomey added. “Patients heal better when they have less stress of dealing with medical expense from companies they never even heard of until the bills arrived in the mail.”
In Hudson County, health professionals at CarePoint Health hospitals, HPAE Local 5185 at
Bayonne Medical Center and HPAE Local 5186 at Christ Hospital, are facing conditions which threaten patient and worker security. What were once community hospitals, these hospitals are now owned by for-profit corporations whose business practices have left workers suddenly facing staffing shortages throughout their hospitals.
“When nurses have too many patients, they still do their best to bring adequate care to all patients, but they need help,” Twomey continued. “This is one reason for the nursing shortage in New Jersey and across America. Our members became healthcare professionals because they want to treat patients’ medical needs. HPAE members demand and require adequate numbers of caregivers be available to best serve and care for every patient.”
At Palisades Medical Center and The Harborage Nursing Home in North Bergen, HPAE Local 5030 and 5097 represent nearly 200 employees making under $15 an hour. On top of being understaffed and overworked, these members are barely making a living wage. Nowhere in New Jersey can a person have a comfortable quality of life making less than $15 an hour. “While healthcare executives take home millions of dollars-a-year, the least they can do is offer our members a living wage. Anything less than $15 an hour should be considered unacceptable,” declared Twomey.
As HPAE and our locals fight for a better workplace for our members, we will fight side-by-side with the citizens of New Jersey to demand better quality healthcare for us all. Our demands at the negotiating table will include the following:
- Establish safe staffing levels to allow for nursing and other healthcare staff to do their jobs to the best of their ability
- Broaden provider networks and expand coverage with health insurance carriers
- Eliminate surprise medical bills to end the spiral of medical debt
- Provide a living wage to all workers in healthcare, including equal pay for women.
As nurses and health professionals, all 13,000 HPAE members are on the frontlines of healthcare working to make sure workers’ rights and patient safety are protected as healthcare systems continue to look towards consolidating New Jersey’s community healthcare.
For more information, please contact: Bridget Devane, (732) 996-5493