Newly ratified contracts covering 400 RNs at Christ Hospital and 850 RNs and health care professionals at Bayonne Medical Center represented by NJ’s largest health care union, the Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE), arrives after several months of contentious negotiations.
On Wednesday, healthcare workers from HPAE Locals 5185 & 5186 ratified one-year contracts, both with an expiration date of June 30, 2015, that included strong standards and protections for staffing, workplace rights and benefits.
The improved Nurse-to-Patient ratios at both hospitals are a key component of the contracts, including more nurses for the Medical Surgical units, ICU, Emergency Department, Oncology and Maternal Child Health units in both hospitals, according to HPAE leaders.
“Our first priority throughout these negotiations was to set strong standards for patient safety and quality care – and we did that,” said Nicole Mankowski, RN, President of HPAE Local at Christ Hospital.
Retirement benefits were improved with an overall increase of the Employer matching contribution to 3% which is an increase of 2% for Christ Hospital and an increase of 1% for Bayonne Medical Center.
“Improvements in staffing will help recruit staff and improvements of retirement benefits should help retain our valuable experienced staff,” said John Bauer, RN and president of the HPAE local at Bayonne Medical Center.
In the face of a lock-out threat from the hospital owners, community leaders and union members stood together to turn around negotiations and move towards a settlement, according to HPAE leaders. Both contracts include salary increases of 1.5% that will be given as a single bonus payment, while employee health insurance contributions will not be increased for the term of the contract.
“HPAE members, elected officials and community leaders were instrumental in achieving strong staffing improvements in both of our contracts,” said Ann Twomey, president of the 12,000 member HPAE union. “Our first priority throughout these negotiations was to set strong standards for patient safety and care in both the Bayonne and Jersey City communities.”