Nurses win improved terms, no givebacks in renewing 3-year contract three months early
Jersey Shore University Medical Center unionized Registered Nurses pushed for early negotiation of their collective bargaining agreement with Hackensack Meridian Health — due to expire Jan. 31, 2023 — and have now ratified renewal of the agreement that improves wages and working conditions for three more years.
The new contract focuses on safety for patients and healthcare workers, improves wages to help with staff recruitment and retention and puts in place a process to continue to address workplace issues that concern workers as they arise.
HPAE Local 5058 President Tiffany Busby said she was gratified that the work of the bargaining committee on behalf of her local’s membership has been rewarded with a progressive contract that will protect nurses on the job and help retain and recruit new staff in their efforts to care for their patients.
The 1,400 nurses represented by HPAE Local 5058 at Jersey Shore University Medical Center are bravely caring for patients, including those on the Covid-19 pandemic frontlines.
HPAE President Debbie White also lauded the perseverance of the membership who have had to withstand many challenges, starting with a continuing pandemic, while also fighting to improve working conditions.
“This is a huge victory for Jersey Shore HPAE members,” White said. “They fought back multiple takebacks that the employer sought at the bargaining table and made dramatic progress on security and safety issues, with room for further progress in the future.”
In December of last year and continuing through the summer of 2022, local leaders surveyed members who were frustrated with the hospital’s inability to staff their facility and the problems created by lack of staff. They brought the survey results to the table along with proposals to address the issues around safety, recruitment and retention and they prevailed.
This contract will help retain experienced nurses who can then mentor newer nurses entering the profession. It provides a wage scale that recognizes nurses for their highly trained experience in the hospital and will go a long way to address a critical staffing shortage.
Some safety highlights of the new contract include:
- Increased minimum staffing in the Operating Room and Emergency Department Triage
- A full time security officer responsible for and permanently assigned to the ED at all times
- Local leadership and management will meet within 60 days of contract ratification to discuss health and safety issues including but not limited to use of security wands, panic buttons for employees in high-risk areas, and increasing security throughout the hospital.
“These workers have been adamant that working conditions must improve and we are now on the right path. Our members won safer working conditions for themselves and their patients because we know that everything that affects nursing, will also impact patients. Ultimately, we are fighting for our patients. We have more work to do, but this new contract is a huge step in the right direction,” White said.
For more information, contact: Michael Allen, (646) 436-7556