A statement issued by Allyson Miller, spokesperson for Bayonne Medical Center, announced last week that Bayonne Medical Center and Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) reached a tentative contract agreement late Sunday night, June 14.
“The agreement is subject to ratification by the union members,” Miller said.
Negotiations between the healthcare workers’ union – which represents 850 workers – and BMC resumed after the hospital ended its lockout on June 12.
Prior to the lockout on June 9, BMC and HPAE had spent two months in negotiations, with three extended contract deadlines.
Union officials said the lockout ended partly due to political pressure and partly because the hospital lacked adequate staff to maintain services.
“This agreement reflects the determination of our members at Bayonne to insist on standards for their working conditions and for patient care,” said Ann Twomey, president of the state-wide HPAE. “We significantly improved on proposals turned down by the members only 10 days ago.”
The tentative agreement maintains seniority rights and severance pay in case of layoffs for members, and establishes a new three-year contract. The details will be withheld until the tentative agreement is presented for a vote by the members of the union on Thursday.
Ending the lockout allowed negotiations to resume
BMC management decided to end the lockout of their hospital employees effective 7 a.m. on June 12.
“This decision was driven by our commitment to the community and our paramount concern, patient care,” said Miller. “We have advised our workers’ union leadership that we will be implementing the terms and conditions of the contract we presented to them on June 3, as we believe that contract is a fair and appropriate one for our employees.”
“I was happy to hear that the members of HPAE staff would be returning to work.” – Rep. Albio Sires
“Again, our paramount concern is the health and well-being of the community, and bringing our employees back on the job is the best way to do that,” Miller said.
BMC locked out workers on June 9 after talks broke down on June 7.
Twomey called this “a victory for the strength of the healthcare workers” who stood together. “It is also a testament to the support we received from our mayor, Mark Smith, from our congressman, Albio Sires, from our county executive, Tom DeGise, and our county freeholders,” she said.
“I was happy to hear that the members of HPAE staff would be returning to work,” said Rep. Albio Sires. “Once again, it is imperative that both sides return to the negotiating table and continue negotiations until a successful conclusion of this bargaining process is reached. I will continue to work with Mayor Smith to ensure quality health care for the residents of the City of Bayonne and Hudson County.”
“We remain optimistic that the union membership will ratify a settlement, and look forward to a calmer atmosphere at the hospital,” Mayor Smith said.