September 28, 2018
MANAHAWKIN, N.J.—The Health Professionals and Allied Employees—the union representing nurses at Southern Ocean Medical Center and other hospitals—accused Hackensack Meridian Health today of illegally orchestrating a union decertification effort using aggressive anti-union tactics that will ultimately fail. As nurses, having a union has given them the ability to advocate at the bargaining table and in the hospital for their patients’ safety and care, while improving working conditions to help retain and recruit experienced nursing staff.
HPAE received notice from the National Labor Relations Board that a petition was filed by a SOMC nurse to hold a decertification election. An election date has not been set.
“The vast majority of nurses have been focused on doing their jobs well and gaining improved patient safety measures at the bargaining table. Corporate executives are focused on intimidating and bullying nurses to silence us,” said Barbara Bosch, an SOMC RN and president of HPAE Local 5138 at SOMC.
For the last two years, Hackensack Meridian has distributed literature and held meetings that were used to explain how nurses can leave the union while also spreading misinformation about HPAE leaders. Similar attempts have been made at other Hackensack Meridian facilities but the actions at SOMC have been particularly aggressive, Bosch said.
HPAE President Ann Twomey said the union may ask the NLRB to block a decertification election because HMH’s unfair labor practices and unlawful facilitation of the decertification effort have made employee free choice impossible.
“Hackensack Meridian is orchestrating this decertification effort by using egregious and illegal tactics to bust our union. We believe this was initiated by the hospital, not the nurse who joined the corporation’s scheme,” Twomey said. “We have the support of the vast majority of our nurse members and the public because we speak for patients and what they need to receive safe care.”
The SOMC nurses’ contract expired in July 2018. The union has been at the bargaining table with the hospital since June. HPAE simultaneously is bargaining for new contracts for the 900 nurses and health professionals at Palisades Medical Center and the 1,100 nurses at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Contracts for all three Hackensack Meridian facilities expired in July 2018.
On Sept. 18, healthcare professionals at The Harborage, a nursing home in North Bergen, voted to ratify a new contract agreement reached with Hackensack Meridian.