Nurses at Jersey Shore and Southern Ocean Ratify New Contracts with Hackensack Meridian Health – Gains Made Amid Dozens of Proposed Cutbacks

On Thursday, December 13, 2018, Registered Nurses with the Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE), at Jersey Shore University Medical Center (JSUMC) and Southern Ocean Medical Center (SOMC), ratified new 22-month contracts with Hackensack-Meridian Health.

This victory comes after nearly seven months of negotiations and an outpouring of support from the nurses and the community. The new contracts cover 1,500 nurses at both hospitals and runs retroactively from July 31, 2018 through May 31, 2020.

“Despite continued attacks on our right to union membership and representation, despite management’s desire to weaken our previous gains for workplace protections, despite the hiring of a union-busting firm to try to defeat us, our resiliency and persistence paid off,” said Kendra McCann, President of HPAE Local 5058 at JSUMC. “We refused to succumb to the ploys of management while fighting to provide better patient care.”

Nurses defeated more than two dozen management proposals at each facility that would have required givebacks of already existing protections, potentially eroding patient and worker safety in some cases. Highlights of the new agreement include:

  • Commitment to hire 44 nurses at JSUMC and 14 nurses at SOMC
  • Reductions in cost for health insurance and increased access to care
  • No floating for new hires at SOMC
  • Increase in disability insurance coverage
  • Access to protections under the Earned Sick Leave Act
  • Wage increases up to 2.5%
  • Time off for participation in a medical mission or national disasters

“Our members stayed on track with our message that safe staffing equals safer patient care,” said Sue Kaszuba, Vice-President of HPAE Local 5138 at SOMC. “Nothing can sidetrack us from our commitment to patient safety, and we proved that with an overwhelming defeat of a decertification here at SOMC.” In November, HPAE members at SOMC voted decisively to keep HPAE as their union representative in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.

“While we wish we could have found more common ground with HMH over staffing, we will continue to work on that issue through our staffing committee,” said McCann. “HMH leaders know that this issue is not going to go away. It is in all our best interests if we work together to provide the best care possible to our patients.”

For more information contact Bridget Devane (732) 996-5493.