Taken from the Asbury Park Press
July 8, 2020
Jersey Shore University Medical Center nurses will get at least a 3% raise and will be included in pandemic planning after agreeing to a new contract with the hospital’s parent company, Hackensack Meridian Health, the nurses union said.
The agreement allows the Neptune hospital to continue to practice “floating” — assigning nurses to departments outside their specialties. But nurses with at least 15 years of seniority will be exempt.
“This is about dignity, respect and protecting what these hard-working nurses have spent years building in the workplace so they can do what they do best, care for their patients,” Debbie White, president of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union, said Wednesday.
About 1,300 nurses at Jersey Shore University Medical Center have been working with extensions since their contract expired May 31.
The two sides negotiated as New Jersey careened through the coronavirus pandemic that has left as many as 15,000 dead. At the end of May, Hackensack Meridian reported that 1,200 employees contracted the virus and 18 died.
Tensions ran high. Nurses at Jersey Shore were outspoken about fears that they didn’t have enough personal protective equipment. And as negotiations dragged, they picketed in front of the hospital along Route 33 in the shadows of a giant billboard with a message from Hackensack Meridian that read: “Thank you for your heroic service.”
With New Jersey through the first wave of the virus and anticipating a rebound, White said nurses wanted to have a bigger voice in preparing for a pandemic and to rein in the practice of “floating.”
The risk, White said, was that nurses would float outside their specialties and ultimately hurt patient care, she said.