NLRB Rules in Favor of Unionized Healthcare Workers against Hackensack Meridian - Health Professionals & Allied Employees

NLRB Rules in Favor of Unionized Healthcare Workers against Hackensack Meridian

May 5, 2020

HPAE filed charges against NJ’s largest health system during 2018 contract negotiations for failure to bargain in good faith.

After two years of investigating charges, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has reached a decision, ruling in favor of HPAE and against Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH) for failing to negotiate in good faith and failing to provide information to the union during contract negotiations in 2018.

HPAE represents nearly 2,500 nurses and healthcare workers in the HMH System. The NLRB’s decision comes just as the Union and Hackensack Meridian have returned to the bargaining table. The current contract is set to expire on May 31, 2020.

“The negotiations of 2018 were some of the most difficult negotiations our members have ever faced. Unfortunately, since 2018, the challenges have continued with ongoing payroll errors that impact workers’ wages and other benefits and most recently the firing of one of the local union presidents, Adam Witt at Jersey Shore University Medical Center,” said Debbie White, RN and HPAE President.

“This decision could not have come at a better time to give our members the justice they deserve as they continue to demand protections and speak up for their rights. As healthcare workers on the frontlines this decision provides us a sense of support and recognition of our efforts. We must continue to demand that our rights be honored so we can continue to bargain for greater protections in our healthcare facilities,” said Anna Pona, RN and President of HPAE Local 5138 at Southern Ocean Medical Center.

Negotiations between administrators and representatives of HPAE Locals 5058 at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and HPAE Local 5138 at Southern Ocean Medical Center began last week by video conference. Adam Witt, HPAE Local 5058 President who was terminated on April 5, 2020, still attends the virtual bargaining.  The union disputes the termination and has filed a whistleblower charge with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and a charge of retaliation with the NLRB for the termination. In addition to firing Witt, HMH also posted his photo at all entrances informing everyone entering that he is not allowed to enter the Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

“There was a level of disrespect shown throughout the previous negotiations that did not benefit anyone. The ‘one-size-fits all’ approach on policies that HMH has forced on workers, the refusal to bargain and the bypassing of labor law has created a difficult environment for our members. We hope this NLRB decision will help HMH understand the need to develop a better relationship with their union members.” added White.

The NLRB in its decision ordered HMH to “cease and desist from (a) Bypassing the Union, [HPAE] and dealing directly with bargaining unit employees regarding mandatory subjects of bargaining without providing the Union adequate advanced notice and bargaining proposals.” The full order can be found here.

The Administrative Law Judges Decision issued on April 24, 2020 can be found here.

The nearly 2,500 nurses and other skilled health professionals represented by HPAE in the HMH system include:

  • HPAE Local 5030 at Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen,
  • HPAE Local 5097 at The Harborage in North Bergen,
  • HPAE Local 5058 at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune,
  • HPAE Local 5138 at Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin.

For more information, please contact: Bridget Devane, Public Policy Director, 732-996-5493