November 3, 2018
After seven months of bargaining with Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH), nurses and health professionals at Palisades Medical Center have ratified a new three-year contract. Voting took place throughout the day on November 2nd to ratify the contract which takes steps towards improving staffing levels with an agreement to hire 28 new staff and increases in wages for all members of HPAE Local 5030 at the hospital.
“These were difficult negotiations, yet as professionals we stood together against the attempts to undermine and take away our union rights. This contract preserves our rights to have a voice in patient safety and changes in our workplace,” said Mickie Miquiabas, President of HPAE Local 5030. “We fought back against an aggressive anti-union campaign and now we have a commitment that the hospital will hire more staff and continue to work with us to improve staffing levels and patient safety standards in our hospital.”
The contract includes provisions that over the next 180 days, 28 jobs will be added across the hospital:
- 15 Registered Nurses in Medical Surgical Units
- 5 Registered Nurses in the Emergency Department
- 1 Registered Nurse in Radiology
- 2 Behavioral Health Technicians in the Emergency Department
- 3 Certified Nursing Assistants
- 1 Breast Ultrasound Technician
- 1 Multi-Modality Radiology Technician
A committee of labor and management representatives will meet to review staffing conditions and ensure the 28 positions are hired within 180 days as set in the contract.
Debbie White, RN and President of HPAE, “It became clear from the first days of bargaining that we were dealing with a large healthcare corporation whose intentions were to take away healthcare workers’ rights to speak up for their patients and themselves. Yet it is the determination of HPAE members that allowed them to withstand these attacks and preserve their rights as advocates for themselves and their patients.”
Throughout these negotiations Hackensack Meridian proposed taking away the union’s rights to negotiate over new policies, changes to the health insurance and even attempted to take away pension benefits for employees, all of which were not included the in final contract agreement.
“Hackensack Meridian saw these negotiations as an attempt to cut costs on the back of their workers, many of whom have decades of experience caring for patients in North Bergen. Without the financial incentives and security of these benefits the corporate executives needed to understand that they will be hard pressed to retain the experienced healthcare professionals who provide safe patient care every day. In the end, our contract will continue to protect our rights and will help to ensure our hospital can retain the most experienced healthcare professionals,” added Miquiabas.
In addition to preserving current benefits, the contract includes wage increases for the 900 nurses and healthcare professionals of HPAE Local 5030 that range from 8% to 10% over the life of the contract.
Nearly 2,500 nurses and health professionals represented by HPAE across the state have been in bargaining with HMH this year. This contract is the second settlement reached for HPAE locals, while HPAE Local 5058 at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune and HPAE Local 5138 at Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin continue to bargain with HMH.