STAFFORD - The nurses at Southern Ocean Medical Center reached a tentative agreement recently with Hackensack Meridian Health. This is the second victory for the SOMC nurses after avoiding a decertification of the union back in November.
Unionized nurses at Jersey Shore University Medical Center (JSUMC) also reached the tentative agreement with Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH) after contentious contract negotiations.
“These were extremely difficult negotiations, especially with the inclusion of a union decertification action supported by management at SOMC,” said Sue Kaszuba, Vice-President of HPAE Local 5138 at SOMC. “Yet we persisted, and in the end showed that we are able to withstand even the greatest threat to our solidarity.”
Nearly 2,500 nurses and health professionals across the health system bargained with HMH administration since late spring. HPAE Locals 5058 and 5138 have reached a settlement with HMH, while HPAE Local 5097 at The Harborage Nursing Home ratified a new contract in September and Local 5030 at Palisades Medical Center settled in October.
Nurses voted overwhelmingly to remain HPAE members in mid-November after a decertification notice was filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) challenging the union at SOMC. Of the 87 percent of nurses who came out to vote, 85 percent voted yes to remain members of HPAE, NJ’s largest union of nurses and healthcare professionals.
“Nurses came out to vote and send a strong message to management that any efforts to weaken our voice has only made us more determined to stand together to protect our rights,” said Kaszuba.
Kendra McCann, HPAE Local 5058 President said, “Hackensack Meridian maintained a corporate tone throughout these negotiations attempting to erode workers’ rights rather than focusing on protecting patient and worker safety. HPAE members never lost sight of fighting to stand up for having a voice in protecting the rights of patients and workers.”
“Hackensack Meridian was relentless in attacking our previously hard-fought contractual gains,” said McCann. “But we were successful in defeating more than two dozen management proposed cutbacks in each facility, as well as making some significant gains for the nurses in both hospitals. We stood strong and worked together every step of the way.”
Both HPAE locals will vote on ratification of the agreements throughout the day on December 13, 2018.