BAYONNE -- After months of bargaining, a public media campaign, community canvassing and informational picketing, workers at Bayonne Medical Center reached a tentative agreement for a new 26-month contract with the for-profit hospital owners. The current contract covering 800 nurses and health care workers expires on May 31, 2012.
At issue were staffing levels, working conditions, and sick leave policies. “We reached a strong agreement that will ensure safe staffing for our patients, help retain qualified staff, and enable health care workers to set a standard for care in Hudson County in the future”, said Donna Benjamin, president of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees Local 5185.
Hudson Hospital Holdco, owners of both Bayonne Medical Center and Hoboken University Hospital, are in the final stages of purchasing Christ Hospital in Jersey City, with approval from the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services and the Office of Attorney General expected in June. Because of the for-profit company’s expanded control over health care services in Hudson County, union and community leaders have contended that state approval should contain additional protections to ensure continued access for the community to services, safe staffing and quality care.
“Having nurses and health care workers throughout Hudson County united as a force for quality patient care was, and continues to be, an important factor in our bargaining at both Bayonne Medical Center and Christ Hospital,” said Ann Twomey, president of the state HPAE, representing 12,000 health care workers, including more than 2500 in Hudson County. “With the community, we can and will continue to advocate for a high standard of care for the residents of Hudson County, and we believe this contract helps us achieve that goal.”
HPAE members at Bayonne Medical Center will meet throughout the day on Thursday, May 31, to vote on ratification of the new contract.
Details of the contract will be made public following member ratification, with the vote count expected to be completed by 8 p.m. Thursday evening.