LIVINGSTON, NJ – Nurses at Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC) being represented by Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1091 recently rejected a contract at the hospital over what they consider to be “severe staffing issues.”

CWA Local 1091, which has been bargaining for its members since September, is set to return to the bargaining table tomorrow, Dec. 27.

In early December, the nurses authorized a strike, and Local 1091 got negotiations as far as SBMC was willing to go. Due to concerns over staffing issues that they believe are not being addressed in a meaningful way, the nurses rejected the tentative agreement.

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Representatives of SBMC released the following statement regarding the rejection of this agreement:

“Saint Barnabas Medical Center is fortunate to have a dedicated staff with approximately 1200 highly skilled nurses. Their outstanding efforts have contributed to the medical center’s national and international reputation for safety and quality. 

“In October, SBMC received its 12th-consecutive ‘A’ from The Leapfrog Group for the Hospital Safety Score. In addition, the medical center was named a Top Teaching Hospital for safety and quality by the Leapfrog Group for four years in a row—one of only 36 teaching hospitals in the nation to achieve that recognition. Saint Barnabas was also named the 2017 Healthcare Heroes Top Hospital in New Jersey by NJBIZ.

“In November, SBMC received the highest Excellence award from the Mid-Atlantic Alliance for Performance Excellence (MAAPE), a regional Baldrige-based award program that recognizes superior levels of performance excellence.

“Among the ‘2017 Best Places to Work in Healthcare’ as recognized by Modern Healthcare, SBMC provides a rewarding work environment with a generous compensation and benefits package. These factors contribute to the low nursing turnover, which was 7.2 percent for 2016—significantly below the national benchmark of 17.1 percent. Over the last two years, the medical center has added over 100 registered nurses and significantly increased its support staff.

“SBMC has had extensive negotiations with New Jersey Nurses Union/CWA Local 1091 most recently under the jurisdiction of a mediator. Patient satisfaction/staffing language proposed by the union was included in the final agreement. 

“We are extremely disappointed that a minority of the members rejected the proposal agreed to by the negotiating team on Dec. 13, 2017. The nurses at the medical center petitioned the union for a revote. Unfortunately, the union has refused to conduct another vote.

“We are still optimistic that a settlement will be reached and look forward to returning to the table tomorrow. We believe we have addressed the Union’s primary concerns. If we are not able to reach a reasonable agreement, we are completely prepared to fully staff and operate Saint Barnabas Medical Center.”

As bargaining resumes, more information will be provided as it becomes available.