Healthcare workers union to begin contract negotiations with Hudson County hospitals
Taken from NJ.com
By Peter D’Auria | The Jersey Journal
April 9, 2021
New Jersey’s largest healthcare employees’ union is preparing to begin contract negotiations with three Hudson County hospitals, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a drawn-out struggle for ownership over the county’s hospitals.
The Health Professionals and Allied Employees, which represents 14,000 employees statewide, will enter into contract negotiations with Christ Hospital in Jersey City, Bayonne Medical Center and Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, as well as the North Bergen long-term care facility the Harborage.
It’s unclear exactly when the negotiations will begin, but an HPAE press release said the union is “either at the bargaining table now or will be throughout the year.”
“Our demands at the bargaining table will focus on worker and patient safety measures, safe staffing, and infectious disease preparedness,” Debbie White, the president of Health Professionals and Allied Employees, said in an email. “Our Christ and Bayonne members identified areas that must be improved in order to reduce the risk to workers, help stem the rate of spread, improve patient outcomes, and create a safer environment for workers and patients.”
CarePoint spokesman Randy Minniear did not address questions about the negotiations, but said in an email that the network “(understands) the importance and responsibility we have to the communities of Bayonne, Jersey City, and Hoboken.”
A spokeswoman for Hackensack Meridian Health, which operates both Palisades Medical Center and the Harborage, said the network “(looks) forward to an open discussion with HPAE and our team members at Palisades Medical Center to negotiate and bargain in good faith.”
“During this unprecedented pandemic, Hackensack Meridian Health has led the way in innovation, resourcefulness and ensuring the protection of our patients and team members,” the spokeswoman said.
The negotiations come at an especially fraught time for healthcare in Hudson County. By effectively eliminating months of elective surgeries, but still requiring hospitals to cope with a flood of COVID-19 patients, the pandemic has had a significant financial impact on the hospitals’ finances.
CarePoint Health’s three hospitals have not filed financial records with the state Department of Health for years. But the facilities have been on uncertain footing since before the pandemic.
Since 2019, when CarePoint announced plans to sell its three hospitals, a rotating cast of players has made bids for the facilities. In Bayonne, Yan Moshe, the owner of Secaucus’ Hudson Regional Hospital, has been engaged in a months-long tug-of-war with BMC Hospital, LLC, a group of healthcare investors, over Bayonne Medical Center. (Hudson Regional Hospital and HPAE signed a new contract in February.)
Late last year, after a deal with nonprofit operator RWJBarnabas Health fell through, CarePoint announced plans to sell the Hoboken and Jersey City hospitals to California investment group KPC Group.