New contract gives unionized nurses a voice in health and safety preparedness during a pandemic outbreak
Jersey Shore University Medical Center unionized Nurses have ratified a collective bargaining agreement which provides nurses a seat at the table during the current COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and any future pandemic outbreaks.
The agreement will allow for better communication between nurses and administration and give nurses the opportunity to voice their concerns over insufficient PPE, training, and testing all of which are essential in ensuring the health and safety of workers and patients.
“Winning a voice in how the hospital allocates resources during a pandemic outbreak was a top priority for the 1,300 Jersey Shore nurses, represented by HPAE Local 5058. The nursing staff are and have been bravely caring for patients on the Covid-19 pandemic frontlines with scarce personal protective equipment and other resources they needed to do critical life-saving work, HPAE President Debbie White, RN, said.
In this contract, beginning July 12, 2020, nurses will receive a minimum of 3% increase of wages and on average of a 17.5% increase in wages. A new 30 year pay scale will bring all nurses up, including a $9.00 increase for newly graduated nurses. Additionally, the three-year contract provides for a 2% increase in 2021 and 2.25% in 2022. The contract contains financial incentives that will help to recruit much needed additional staff throughout the hospital.
“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,” White said.
HPAE Local 5058 President Adam Witt, RN, said the new contract will allow members of his local to continue to put patient care in the forefront of their minds even as they work with the HMH for maintain respect and further improvements in work conditions.
“We’re glad to resolve negotiations, but we’ll be moving into the equally important process of vigilance on patient standards of care, staff protection, and enforcement of the contract,” said Witt.
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Michael O. Allen